"Indiana Jones" fans tough crowd for effects crew

Wed May 28, 2008 8:52am EDT
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By Carolyn Giardina

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Indiana Jones' return to the big screen after 19 years underscores how much visual effects have evolved.

When the first three Indy films were made in the 1980s, the visual effects were done optically, i.e. photographically or in post-production.

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," which topped the North American box office this past weekend, marks the first time sophisticated digital techniques were used in bringing the story of the archaeologist-adventurer to life.

"There were many challenges," said visual effects supervisor Pablo Helman, a veteran of "Indiana Jones" creator George Lucas' effects house Industrial Light + Magic (ILM).

"One was working on a movie that had so many fans and coming up with work that matched the other movies. That was something (director) Steven Spielberg wanted from the beginning."

Helman, a native of Argentina, said he and his team used a wide variety of techniques to make the scenes believable.

"The idea was to be on location as much as possible and then augment (with visual effects) to finish telling the story. ... We always started with principal photography, then we had miniatures, computer-generated elements, practical elements."

The chase in the jungle is an example of how the digital tools were used.   Continued...

<p>Cast members Karen Allen, Harrison Ford, and Shia LaBeouf arrive for a screening of the film "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" by Steven Spielberg in New York May 20, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>