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[ARTIST] Ellen Poon - Visual Effects Supervisor

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  • madchinaman
    Top Visual Effects Supervisor Launches New Venture While Wrapping Post Production On Zhang Yimou?s Epic Film, ?Hero? Former ILM Visual Effects And Animation
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 23, 2002
      Top Visual Effects Supervisor Launches New Venture While Wrapping Post
      Production On Zhang Yimou?s Epic Film, ?Hero?
      Former ILM Visual Effects And Animation Expert Ellen Poon Launches
      DFreedomZone, Inc. To Bring Real-Time 3D Visualization & Innovative
      Content To Online & Multimedia Production

      http://www1.internetwire.com/iwire/iwpr?id=45692&cat=ar



      SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- (INTERNET WIRE) -- 08/21/2002 -- Ellen Poon, a
      veteran visual effects supervisor with over 16 years of industry
      experience, 10 years of which were at George Lucas' Industrial Light
      and Magic (ILM), and recognized by Avenue Asia magazine as one of the
      500 most influential Asian-Americans, announces the launch of
      DFreedomZone, Inc. (DFZ)(www.dfreedomzone.com ). The San
      Francisco-based company produces engaging 3D animation for the
      entertainment and advertising industries. DFZ?s unique 3D graphics
      rendering technology creates dynamic online and multimedia experiences
      designed to reach and influence teen and college-aged consumers. By
      combining the company?s real-time 3D visualization software with its
      production experience, DFZ offers a unique combination of inspiration,
      meticulous technical expertise and fiscal acumen enhanced by a refined
      creative aesthetic.

      In addition to her duties of launching a new company, Ms. Poon is also
      the Visual Effects Supervisor for Hero, an epic new feature film from
      acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou (Happy Times, Raise The Red
      Lantern, Ju Dou). She designed and oversaw over 250 2D and 3D
      computer-generated visual effects shots which required managing
      several production houses. Ms. Poon was responsible for developing and
      integrating complex visual effects such as digitally enlarged armies,
      elaborate water sequences, and a torrent of arrows that rain down on
      an unsuspecting town. The challenge was to incorporate the
      computer-generated 3D animation and visual effects in a manner that
      helped the director to bring his vision to life. The theme of using 3D
      graphics technology to help creatives and artists tell their story is
      a founding principle of DFZ.

      The $31 million film, Hero, is among Asia?s most ambitious films to
      date and stars top talents Jet Li (The One), Zhang Ziyi (Crouching
      Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Maggie Cheung (In the Mood for Love), and Tony
      Leung (In the Mood for Love). Currently wrapping post-production, the
      film has been more than two years in the making.

      Ms. Poon is one of the most highly regarded visual effects specialists
      in the field. Many of Ms. Poon?s on-screen accomplishments are among
      the most successful feature films of all time, including scenes from
      ?The Green Mile", "Star Wars ? Episode 1: The Phantom Menace",
      "Jurassic Park" and "Men in Black." She was also the Visual Effects
      Consultant on another acclaimed Hong Kong production ?Storm Riders",
      which was known for its breakthrough in computer graphics and went on
      to set Hong Kong cinema box-office records.

      Prior to joining ILM, Ms. Poon was the head of the 3D Department at
      Rushes Post Production and Senior Computer Animator and Software
      Designer at Moving Picture Company, both located in London and among
      the best known and most prolific commercial and television
      post-production companies in Europe.

      For more information, please contact K-Line Publicity at (415)
      332-3324 or cr@....


      Contact: Caroline Rustigian
      Company: K-Line Publicity
      Phone: 415-332-3324
      Email: cr@...


      --


      So You Want to Be in Pixels: Ellen Poon
      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/specialfx2/poon.html


      NOVA: What does a visual effects supervisor do?

      EP: I'm in charge of the visual effects. That's normally computer
      animation, computer effects, compositing, blue screen photography and
      miniatures. So if any films have those effects involved then I'll work
      with the director and the producer and the designers to bring these to
      the screen. And within ILM I have technical directors and animators
      and stage people working for me. I make sure that everything looks
      great, and the effects are to the client's satisfaction.

      NOVA: What inspired you to pursue visual effects?

      EP: I really started doing this when I was at the University of London
      in the early 1980s. My degree was actually more towards the
      mathematical side of things. And then I saw pictures being drawn on
      computers, and I thought, you can do that?

      NOVA: What films first intrigued you about computer animation?

      EP: The ones that impressed me were Pixar's early research. Formed in
      1986, Pixar has created numerous CG short films, "Toy Story" and the
      upcoming "A Bug's Life." "Luxo Junior" and "Red's Dream." They're so
      alive. You know, these are inanimate objects, two lamps in "Luxo
      Junior" and a unicycle in "Red's Dream." Normally they're objects that
      you don't associate emotion with. They're just hardware. But you look
      at these films and it's, wow. These characters you can almost imagine
      having as a friend.

      In terms of photorealistic animation, I liked the Genesis Effect in
      "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" and the dream sequence in "Star Trek
      IV: The Journey Home." It's been 10, 15 years and they still look
      great. And more recently, "Terminator 2," "The Abyss" and "Jurassic
      Park." How could they do that? How could anyone achieve that? You're
      so wowed by it that you kind of just think these people who have done
      this work are like gods, you know.

      NOVA: What films have you worked on recently at ILM?

      EP: The last one was "Small Soldiers". And before that was "Men In
      Black," "Mars Attacks" and "Jumanji." My forte is creature animation
      or character animation films. I get a lot of satisfaction out of
      making something come to life. You can see a character being drawn on
      a piece of paper. But then it's another thing seeing it in front of
      you moving and having emotion and being in an environment where it
      looks like it's completely part of it and the audience can empathize
      with them. To have characters that can talk and walk, react, it
      strikes a chord. And I think that's something that you can never get
      from any other kind of art form.

      NOVA: What kind of research do you do to create characters?

      EP: I have to study a lot of different things. That's why people in
      this job are very observant. You have to study animals, watch nature
      films. I go to zoos. I spend time watching animals and just studying
      what they do. Strange habits, what they do when they get hungry, what
      they do when they get angry. How birds flap their wings. And I touch
      their skin and have a tactile experience of what they're like. Then
      sometimes for human beings I go to restaurants and just sit and watch
      people. It's amazing what kind of people you bump into. And if you're
      animating human beings you study people, real people. You study
      caricatures that exist in cartoons or on television. You have to draw
      so much from different disciplines that you're just constantly looking
      at things.

      NOVA: How does your computer science background come into play?

      EP: The software and hardware are your tools. So if you're a carpenter
      you want to make sure that you have the right chisel, you have the
      right saw, you have the latest innovation. Because it makes your job
      easier. The same thing with computer animation. I get involved in the
      R & D, to make sure that the next generation of software tools is
      right for the job. Only about half of the software we use is from
      outside companies. The other half is written inside the company, and
      we have a big say in the direction it takes.

      NOVA: Do you use your mathematics background?

      EP: Everything has to do with math, I think. The whole universe works
      in a mathematical way that you don't even notice. The other basic for
      an animator is physics. When you animate a bouncing ball, for example,
      you're dealing with acceleration and deceleration of motion, gravity,
      momentum, friction. That's mathematics. And when you work with
      lighting, you have to understand the properties of light. The art and
      science work hand in hand together.

      NOVA: How do you create dinosaurs--the ones in "Jurassic Park"--since
      you can't observe them?

      EP: You talk to paleontologists. You extrapolate from living animals.
      If you study animals long enough you understand that they all move in
      a similar way, it's just scaled differently. You look at a skeleton of
      a dinosaur, and then observe something that's similar. You just think,
      well, it has the mass of an elephant. But it's bipedal. So you look at
      kangaroos, or an ostrich. Then you experiment, and if it feels right
      and looks right, you know you've got something.

      NOVA: What kind of skills or abilities do you think someone interested
      in animation should try to cultivate?

      EP: If they're interested in computer animation, then they should look
      into doing biology to help you understand animal anatomy. And also,
      mathematics, and then maybe drawing and painting, because you have to
      be able to draw in order to animate, and design, because design ties
      everything in together. And you want to get into the computer science
      part, mathematics, and the sciences. So the key subjects would be
      biology, design, drawing, mathematics and computer science.

      NOVA: What do you think films will be like in 20 years with hardware
      and software capabilities changing so fast?

      EP: Films will be more high tech. That's the thing--there's a lot of
      artistic sides associated with filmmaking but also there's a technical
      side. And I think a lot of the aspects of a film will be
      computer-generated. Films will be digital, on disk, not 35mm pieces of
      film. A lot of characters will be created virtually.

      NOVA: What's the hardest thing to do in computer animation right now?

      EP: Humans. But I'm not sure I want to do computer humans. It's
      something a lot of people might want to do, but it's not something
      that I fancy doing, because we have humans and can film them. I'd like
      to do entirely computer-generated environments, that look realistic
      but they're not real. People just keep thinking that a lot of things
      are impossible. But everything is possible. That's the bottom line.
      Everything is possible. You can do anything you want.

      -------


      Ellen Poon
      Former Visual Effects Supervisor
      Industrial Light & Magic
      a division of Lucas Digital LTD. LLC [Ellen Poon]
      http://www.autodesk.com/dyf/wawork/dayinlife/ilmellenpoon.html

      Ellen Poon obtained her undergraduate degree in Computer Science from
      the University of Essex in England. She continued her Ph.D. studies at
      University of London and subsequently published two books on her
      reserach in Theoretical Computer Science. While in college, Poon had
      the opportunity to work with fine artists on various graphics projects
      using in-house developed software. This exposure led her to pursue a
      career in computer graphics. She joined the Moving Picture Company and
      Rushed Post Production LTD. in London and produced work that won
      numerous major international awards. Poon was also invited to be a
      part-time lecturer at the Royal College of Art and University of
      Middlesex in England where she taught computer graphics courses to
      graduate students.

      Poon has worked on groundbreaking projects such as Jurassic Park, The
      Mask, Disclosure, Jumanji, and Perrier's Toy Soldier spot. She is a
      unique artist who can supervise a computer graphics crew, create
      character animation and perform lighting tasks for feature films and
      commercials

      -----


      10 May 2001
      http://www.cityu.edu.hk/pao/010508.htm
      City University of Hong Kong

      Cheap Tricks or Expensive Eye Candies: A Talk by High-Tech Visual
      Effects Expert Ms Ellen Poon

      With the advent of digital technologies, the film and television
      industries have experienced a revolution in the past few years. The
      use of computer graphics to generate stunning imaginaries, used in
      combination with live action or just on its own, has given the movie
      goers or home audience a whole new visual experience. At the same
      time, these techniques which were used extensively in some recent
      blockbuster movies have also generated public debates on their moral use.

      These intriguing developments will be discussed by visual effects guru
      Ellen Poon at the invitation of the School of Creative Media at City
      University of Hong Kong. The talk entitled "Cheap Tricks or Expensive
      Eye Candies", will be held at 5 pm tomorrow (Friday, 11 May 2001) at
      Lecture Theatre 1 in the Academic Building, CityU.

      In the talk, Ms Poon will also explain how these techniques have
      reduced the cost of movie making and how they open up the door for
      different kinds of story telling which were not possible in the past.

      Ms Ellen Poon obtained her bachelor's degree in computer science from
      the University of Essex in England. She continued her Ph.D. studies at
      the University of London. Ms Poon has a wealth of 16 years of
      experience in the high-tech visual effects field. Her reputation,
      ability and comprehensive background in the field of digital effects
      has led her to form her own company to transfer her creativity and the
      3D computer graphics technologies to the Internet. She is currently
      the CEO and founder of DFreedomZone Inc based in San Francisco
      specializing in providing real-time 3D visualization software and
      interesting 3D content for the World Wide Web.

      Until recently, Ms Poon was the Visual Effects Supervisor for ten
      years at George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), the film
      industry's premier production house for high-quality 3D graphics. ILM
      won worldwide attention in the last two decades by setting the
      standard for visual effects and computer animation, and creating some
      of the most stunning images in the history of film. Prior to joining
      ILM, Ms Poon was the head of the 3D Department at Rushes Post
      Production and Senior Computer Animator and Software Designer at
      Carlton Communications? Moving Picture Company in London, two of the
      best-known and most prolific commercial and television post-production
      companies in Europe.

      Ms Poon brings to her projects a unique combination of inspiration,
      meticulous technical expertise and fiscal acumen enhanced by a refined
      creative aesthetic. Many of her on-screen accomplishments are the most
      successful feature films of all time, including ?The Green Mile",
      "Star Wars ? Epidsode 1: The Phantom Menance", "Jurassic Park" and
      "Men in Black". She was also the Visual Effects Consultant on the
      local movie ?Storm Riders", which was known for its breakthrough in
      computer graphics and went on to set Hong Kong cinema box-office records.


      -----

      Ellen Poon to Supervise Zhang Yimou's The Hero
      Posted on Sunday 04 August @ 23:43:00
      http://www.ilmfan.com/main/article.php?sid=341

      Ellen Poon was one of the pioneers at ILM that was involved in the
      modern era of CG VFX. Her last project there was the Green Mile and
      finally we get word of what she is up to now...


      Ellen Poon started at the Moving Picture Company and Rushes in London.
      She came to ILM after the Pixar spin off working on Hook where she
      quickly moved the ranks from Animator and Technical Director to become
      one of the few women VFX Supervisors. Besides working on films like
      The Mask, Jurassic Park, MIB and Episode 1 she supervised projects
      like Small Soldiers, Celebrity and The Green Mile.

      She left ILM in 2001 and there were few news of her endeavors. Now we
      have news about her recent accomplishments. Not only was she a VFX
      consultant for the Hong Kong hit film Storm Riders but also co-founded
      her own company DFreedomZone. Now we get the word that she is the VFX
      Supervisor of Zhang Yimou next film, The Hero, which stars Jet Li and
      Zhang Ziyi. The VFX will be provided by several companies some of them
      formed by former ILM employees like Tweak Films and The Orphanage,
      plus Animal Logic. We wish her continued success and hopefully we'll
      hear more from her in other projects. More information here:


      -----

      Ellen Poon, CEO & Co-Founder
      http://www.dfreedomzone.com/company/bios.html#ellen

      Ellen Poon is an acclaimed expert in the high-tech visual effects
      field with over 16 years of professional experience. Previously, she
      was Visual Effects Supervisor at George Lucas' Industrial Light and
      Magic, the film industry's premier production house for high-quality
      3D animation and graphics.

      Ellen joined ILM ten years ago, and her work for the company has
      included developing cutting-edge digital effects -- on budget and on
      time -- for some of the most successful feature films of all time,
      including "The Green Mile," "Star Wars -- Episode 1: The Phantom
      Menace," "Jurassic Park," and "Men In Black." Ellen's
      computer-generated realization of the miracles in "The Green Mile" and
      the dinosaurs in "Jurassic Park" are just some of her many on-screen
      accomplishments. She brings to her projects a unique combination of
      inspiration, meticulous technical expertise and fiscal acumen enhanced
      by a refined creative aesthetic.

      Prior to joining ILM, Ellen was the head of the 3D Department at
      Rushes Post Production in London - a subsidiary of Virgin Enterprises.
      She also spent four years as Senior Computer Animator and Software
      Designer at Carlton Communications' Moving Picture Company in London.
      Rushes and the MPC are two of the best-known and most prolific
      commercial and television post-production companies in Europe.

      Ellen has served as a visiting lecturer at various prestigious
      universities throughout the world. She has taught computer animation
      in the Masters programs at the Royal College of Art, Middlesex
      University and Westminster University. In addition, she is co-author
      of two publications on the subject of computer graphics programming.
      The textbooks, "Programming with Standard ML" and "Programming with
      Miranda," are recognized as essential reading and part of standard
      university curricula on the subject.

      Her reputation, ability and comprehensive background in the field of
      digital effects will insure that DFZ attracts some of the finest
      artists and most accomplished production staff to work on the
      company's various efforts.

      Ellen was named as one of the 500 most influential Asian Americans by
      "Avenue Asia" magazine in 1996. She also had a featured role in the
      IMAX documentary, "Special Effects: Anything Can Happen."


      ---------


      ILMer Starts DFreedomZone
      Wed, Aug 21, 02 03:03:49 PM EDT
      http://www.theforce.net/holonet/

      The Internet Wire is carrying a press release about an ILMer heading
      out and starting her own visual effects company. Here's a copy of the
      wire:
      Ellen Poon, a veteran visual effects supervisor with over 16 years of
      industry experience, 10 years of which were at George Lucas'
      Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), and recognized by Avenue Asia
      magazine as one of the 500 most influential Asian-Americans, announces
      the launch of DFreedomZone, Inc. (DFZ)(www.dfreedomzone.com). The San
      Francisco-based company produces engaging 3D animation for the
      entertainment and advertising industries. DFZ's unique 3D graphics
      rendering technology creates dynamic online and multimedia experiences
      designed to reach and influence teen and college-aged consumers. By
      combining the company's real-time 3D visualization software with its
      production experience, DFZ offers a unique combination of inspiration,
      meticulous technical expertise and fiscal acumen enhanced by a refined
      creative aesthetic.

      In addition to her duties of launching a new company, Ms. Poon is also
      the Visual Effects Supervisor for Hero, an epic new feature film from
      acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou (Happy Times, Raise The Red
      Lantern, Ju Dou). She designed and oversaw over 250 2D and 3D
      computer-generated visual effects shots which required managing
      several production houses. Ms. Poon was responsible for developing and
      integrating complex visual effects such as digitally enlarged armies,
      elaborate water sequences, and a torrent of arrows that rain down on
      an unsuspecting town. The challenge was to incorporate the
      computer-generated 3D animation and visual effects in a manner that
      helped the director to bring his vision to life. The theme of using 3D
      graphics technology to help creatives and artists tell their story is
      a founding principle of DFZ.

      The $31 million film, Hero, is among Asia's most ambitious films to
      date and stars top talents Jet Li (The One), Zhang Ziyi (Crouching
      Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Maggie Cheung (In the Mood for Love), and Tony
      Leung (In the Mood for Love). Currently wrapping post-production, the
      film has been more than two years in the making.

      Ms. Poon is one of the most highly regarded visual effects specialists
      in the field. Many of Ms. Poon's on-screen accomplishments are among
      the most successful feature films of all time, including scenes from
      "The Green Mile", "Star Wars -- Episode 1: The Phantom Menace",
      "Jurassic Park" and "Men in Black." She was also the Visual Effects
      Consultant on another acclaimed Hong Kong production "Storm Riders",
      which was known for its breakthrough in computer graphics and went on
      to set Hong Kong cinema box-office records.

      Prior to joining ILM, Ms. Poon was the head of the 3D Department at
      Rushes Post Production and Senior Computer Animator and Software
      Designer at Moving Picture Company, both located in London and among
      the best known and most prolific commercial and television
      post-production companies in Europe.


      -------


      Getting digital: Special effects is the name of the game for the Guest
      of Honor speaker

      Ellen Poon, visual effects supervisor, describes the special effects
      that Industrial Light and Magic creates for big movies like Jurrassic
      Park and Titanic Monday night in the Kent State Student Center. (Emily
      Hemmis/ Daily Kent Stater)

      By Len Hoover
      Daily Kent Stater
      http://www.stater.kent.edu/stories_old/00fall/100300/1002ellenpoonlh.html

      A little bit of Hollywood came to Kent State University last night.

      Ellen Poon, a visual effects supervisor for George Lucas' Industrial
      Light and Magic and one of Avenue Asia magazine's 500 most influential
      Asian-Americans, presented "Hollywood: The Digital Movie" to a crowd
      of about 50 in the KSU Ballroom. Poon is part of the Honors College's
      Guest of Honor speaker series.

      Poon, who joined ILM in 1990, oversees visual effects crews and starts
      them on animation for various projects. Poon said she works closely
      with directors in helping them bring their ideas to life.

      "I have to be good at dealing with clients, drawing pictures and the
      technical side of things," Poon said.

      Poon talked about the differences between traditional filmmaking and
      the increasing use of digital filmmaking in Hollywood.

      "In traditional filmmaking, everything is obtained directly from live
      action," she said. "With digital filmmaking, impossible stories can
      now be told."

      Poon discussed many tricks of the trade, using many recent movies as
      examples.

      In Star Wars: Episode One, Poon said ILM used a technique called crowd
      duplication to create the huge crowds in the Podracing scenes. Using a
      videotape of ILM's work, she showed the audience how a miniature set
      was designed to create the size of the crowd with thousands of
      minimally detailed digital people. Live actors were then filmed and
      pasted onto the people to create a full arena of Podracing fans.

      "That way, you don't need a lot of extras on the set," she said.

      To create the visual effects in The Matrix, Poon said multiple cameras
      were used to surround the characters and take multiple snapshots. She
      said the technique has become so popular that some companies want
      entire films done in that style.

      Poon said the use of computer generated characters is becoming more
      widespread in films, using the film The Mummy as an example.

      "A lot of movement in The Mummy depends upon an actual human," she said.

      She said through a technique called motion capture, a human being's
      movements were translated into the computer generated character of a
      mummy.

      Poon also showed tapes of the visual effects done to create films such
      as The Perfect Storm, where 90 percent of ocean waves and clouds were
      computer generated, and Twister, where barns, tornadoes and debris
      were created digitally.

      "Without computers, The Perfect Storm wouldn't be possible," she said.

      Poon said that since 1996, the workload for ILM has more than doubled,
      as digital films are becoming the highest-grossing movies worldwide.

      "We had over 3,000 shots to work on last year," she said. "We have
      grown from 30 people to 1,000 people in my department."

      This surprised John Klouda, a senior computer science major in attendance.

      "It's incredible how much time and effort they have to put into a
      film," he said.

      According to Poon, one of the main concerns with digital filmmaking is
      that movies will rely too heavily on visual effects and not enough on
      compelling storylines.

      However, she said the public usually doesn't respond as well to movies
      that don't have good plots.

      "We are very critical of (digital) films because we want people to use
      the tools intelligently," she said. "We always try to make sure the
      stories are good."

      Poon also expects more foreign film competition, now that digital
      tools are becoming available worldwide.

      Ralph Harley, an art history professor who attended the presentation,
      said digital filmmaking, such as the kind Poon is involved with, is
      changing society in the same way that great artists have.

      "If Michelangelo were alive today, he'd probably be an art director,"
      he said.
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