Podcast Episodes

The entire archives of The Optical podcast.

Episode 025 July 2016

Barco Escape

Star Trek Beyond is currently playing in a new immersive super-widescreen theatrical format called Barco Escape. For details about the presentation format, we chat with Ted Schilowitz, Barco Escape's Chief Creative Officer and the Resident Futurist at 20th Century Fox.

Featuring: Barco Escape, Star Trek Beyond (2016)

Episode 001 January 2014

Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Darren Dochterman, and Alien

In our premiere episode, we talk about Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Alien, chat with Daren Dochterman, VFX Supervisor on Star Trek: The Motion Picture — Director’s Edition, I admit my 2001 shame, and we ask: just what is an “optical,” anyway?

Featuring: Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), Alien (1979)

Episode 002 February 2014

The Empire Strikes Back, Howie Weed, and Greg Jein’s Miniatures

In our second episode, we chat with passionate fan Rob Rhyne about The Empire Strikes Back, interview modelmaker, creature creator, and digital artist Howie Weed about his career and work on The Empire Strikes Back: Special Edition, and we quickly chat with Duncan Boszko to get a perspective on Greg Jein's physical miniature models in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1941, and The Hunt for Red October from someone who was born after the advent of CGI.

Featuring: Empire Strikes Back (1980), Greg Jein, Howie Weed

Episode 003 March 2014

Walter Murch Sound Design, Saul Bass Title Design, Phase IV, Life After Pi, Cinefex 3

We chat with TV writer and producer Ian Brier about Walter Murch’s early sound design for THX 1138, American Graffiti, The Conversation, and Apocalypse Now, as well as Saul Bass’ science fiction film Phase IV, interview Scott Leberecht and Christina Lee Storm about Life After Pi and the current state of the VFX industry, and talk with MK12 partner Ben Radatz about Saul Bass’ career in title design.

Featuring: Apocalypse Now (1979), Phase IV (1974), Ben Radatz, THX 1138 (1971)

Episode 004 April 2014

Outland, Altered States, Open Moco, Sensory Deprivation Tanks, Cinefex 4

We chat with film fan Brian Covey about the development of the front-screen Introvision compositing technique for Outland – or as I like to call it, Sean Connery: Space Cop! – and the early computer effects and makeup designed for Altered States, interview Brad Justinen and Shane McKown of Motion Sickness about their Open MoCo project, and take our own dip in a sensory deprivation tank – for SCIENCE!

Featuring: Altered States (1980), Outland (1981)

Episode 005 May 2014

Ray Harryhausen, Clash of the Titans, The State of 3D, Roy Arbogast, Caveman, Cinefex 5

We chat with Jose Vazquez about Clash of the Titans, Ray Harryhausen’s other stop-motion creature films, Roy Arbogast’s work on the shark for Jaws and other physical effects, and experience the prehistoric comedy, Caveman. We also interview special guest Ed Marsh about the stop motion techniques in Chicken Run, and discuss the current state (and the future) of 3D movies.

Featuring: Caveman (1981), Clash of the Titans (1981), Ray Harryhausen

Episode 006 June 2014

Raiders of the Lost Ark, Thaine Morris, Filmumentaries, Joe Fordham, and Cinefex 6

We chat with Cinefex writer Joe Fordham and film/TV editor Brian Newell about Raiders of the Lost Ark, and interview mechanical effects and pyro legend Thaine Morris about his career and his work on Raiders and Dragonslayer. We also chat with Jamie Benning about his creation of the Filmumentaries behind-the-scenes documentary format.

[Originally known as Episode 006A.]

Featuring: Jamie Benning, Joe Fordham, Thaine Morris, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Episode 007 July 2014

Raiders of the Lost Ark, Mark Mangini, Dragonslayer, Go-Motion, Cinefex 6

We interview sound designer Mark Mangini about his career, including his early work on Raiders of the Lost Ark, and chat with film/TV editor Brian Newell about Dragonslayer, and the invention of Go-Motion.

This is continuing coverage of Cinefex 6 — see episode 006 for even more Raiders and Dragonslayer goodness!

[Originally known as episode 006B.]

Featuring: Dragonslayer (1981), Mark Mangini

Episode 008 August 2014

King Kong, Willis O’Brien, Stop-Motion Animation, and Cinefex 7

We chat with creator and publisher of Cinefex, Don Shay, about the life and work of stop motion pioneer Willis O’Brien, including The Lost World, King Kong, Mighty Joe Young, and more. We also interview animation director Rob Shaw about his films and experience as a stop-motion animator.

[Originally known as episode 007.]

Featuring: King Kong (1933), Willis O’Brien, Rob Shaw

Episode 009 September 2014

Tron, Harrison Ellenshaw, John Van Vliet, and Cinefex 8

We chat with visual effects artists Harrison Ellenshaw and John Van Vliet about their work on the 1982 cult classic Tron, and hear about the hand-drawn animation that people think was CGI, and just how crazy it really was to work on the film.

[Originally released as episode 008A.]

Featuring: Tron (1982), Harrison Ellenshaw, John Van Vliet

Episode 010 October 2014

Douglas Trumbull and the Future of Immersive Cinema, Part 1

We talk with Douglas Trumbull about his history as artist, animator, and VFX legend, and about what caused him to become a champion of immersive cinema. Stay tuned for Part 2!

Featuring: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Brainstorm (1983), Silent Running (1972), Douglas Trumbull

Episode 011 November 2014

Douglas Trumbull, Part 2: Back to the Future… The Ride to Magi and UFOTOG

We talk with Douglas Trumbull about his history as a creator and inventor of VFX and film technology, making Back to the Future… The Ride, and his latest project: the 120 fps, 4K, 3D short film UFOTOG that shows off his new immersive film process, Magi.

Featuring: Back to the Future… The Ride (1991), Douglas Trumbull, UFOTOG (2014)

Episode 012 January 2015

Planet of the Apes: The Evolution of the Legend

We talk with Cinefex Associate Editor Joe Fordham and renowned film and soundtrack writer Jeff Bond, co-authors of Planet of the Apes: The Evolution of the Legend, and we get our stinking paws all over the many incarnations of the Apes!

Featuring: Planet of the Apes (1968), Planet of the Apes (2001), Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Episode 013 January 2015

Poltergeist

Mike Gower chats with us about the making of Poltergeist, and we learn how to make ectoplasmic goo and body-sausage water guns.

Featuring: Poltergeist (1982)

Episode 014 February 2015

Firefox

We talk the making of Clint Eastwood’s Firefox with Russian speaker Mike Gower, and we marvel at John Dykstra and Apogee’s technical advances, including “reverse blue screen,” for the effects of the super-stealth fighter. до свидания!

Featuring: Apogee, Firefox (1982)

Episode 015 February 2015

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Cinefex Associate Editor Joe Fordham joins us to discuss the making of Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, we try to figure out how E.T.’s innards worked, and discuss Spielberg’s unproduced Night Skies.

Featuring: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Episode 016 March 2015

Something Wicked This Way Comes

We chat with Brian Covey about the making of Something Wicked This Way Comes, and discover that it might be an overlooked CGI first.

Featuring: Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

Episode 017 March 2015

Matte Painter Jesse Silver

We chat with matte painter Jesse Silver about his work on Tron, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Labyrinth, moving from real paint to digital for Super Mario Bros., and one high-pressure effects house that had phones in the toilet stalls.

Featuring: Jesse Silver

Episode 018 April 2015

Robert Swarthe, Close Encounters Special Edition, Star Trek: The Motion Picture

We chat with animator and VFX artist Robert Swarthe about his work on Close Encounters of the Third Kind — both the original and Special Edition, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and more!

Featuring: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), Robert Swarthe

Episode 019 April 2015

Robert Swarthe, One From the Heart, The Outsiders, and Early HD Video

We chat with animator and VFX artist Robert Swarthe about his work on One From the Heart, The Outsiders, a short film test with an early HD video camera, and his unproduced adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s The Fountains of Paradise.

Featuring: One from the Heart (1982), Outsiders (1983), Robert Swarthe

Episode 020 May 2015

Return of the Jedi

We chat about the effects of Return of the Jedi with Filmumentaries creator Jamie Benning, covering advances in motion tracking, Steadicam, and what life was like inside Jabba the Hutt.

Featuring: Jamie Benning, Return of the Jedi (1983)

Episode 021 June 2015

Jurassic: From Park to World

Cinefex Editor Jody Duncan comes on to discuss the evolution of digital VFX technology from the original Jurassic Park to the new Jurassic World, including her time on the set of The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

Featuring: CGI, Jurassic Park (1993), Jurassic World (2015)

Episode 022 September 2015

The Right Stuff

We talk about The Right Stuff with Joel Page, where at the height of excellent motion control camera work, the USFX team took the shots of supersonic jets and crashing capsules, and went in an entirely different direction.

Featuring: Right Stuff (1983)

Episode 023 January 2016

Howie Weed Remastered

In a special edition of the podcast, remastered audio of our 2014 interview with Howie Weed, long time artist at ILM, who tells us about blowing up the Enterprise, a recipe for fake blood, mass producing Gremlins, an alligator, alien probes, and his turn as the Special Edition Wampa in the Special Edition of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

Featuring: Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Episode 024 February 2016

IMAX Projectionist Jenn Bentz

We talk with Jenn Bentz, IMAX Projectionist at Pacific Science Center, about the IMAX projection experience, the move from film to DLP to LASER, and her experience running the Hateful Eight 70mm roadshow.

Featuring: Jenn Bentz

Episode 025 July 2016

Barco Escape

Star Trek Beyond is currently playing in a new immersive super-widescreen theatrical format called Barco Escape. For details about the presentation format, we chat with Ted Schilowitz, Barco Escape's Chief Creative Officer and the Resident Futurist at 20th Century Fox.

Featuring: Barco Escape, Star Trek Beyond (2016)