Meet the Artist: Grant Freckelton, Animal Logic

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  03 March 2007
Thanks Mr. Freckelton for your answers and insight! One day I hope my portfolio will be good enough to meet industry standards and, like you suggested to us here, shop it around like crazy.

I did more searches on the VFX of 300 and found this article and video. Mods, if these links don't belong in this thread feel free to move them wherever necessary:
  03 March 2007
Great insights....ive tried 'The Crush'.....very interesting.

Wacom practice

  03 March 2007
Thank you Grant, this helps a lot. Never knew so many Artists worked on visualising the film before the scenes were created.
Anatomy Thread of Rist

  03 March 2007
Hi Grant i dont want to ask you something i want to tell you that the VFX in the film where Great, and i would love to see you making more VFX for films, a tiny question would be:
what year you started making vfx not for films, i mean your very beggining when was it, thanks.
  03 March 2007
Hi Grant, Excelent work! just saw the movie... seeing a movie like that is really inspiring me as an artist.
Thanks Grant for a really great work, i hope it will give many artists desire to do more excelent works or at least it gives me one..
Just one quick question, can you tell us a bit the process for the fighting scenes, especially the first one when leonidas showing off his fighting skills and changing weapon from spear to sword(this scene is not from the comic). The scene is sureal but realistic at the same time. Thanks
  03 March 2007
I think 300 is so well done it will become a barometer for judging other cgi pieces...Good job Grant! This film will win every possible award, no doubt.

I had a couple of questions regarding the production cycle.

1) How did the CGI needs affect directing the actors? Were there times where things had to be reshot to accomodate these needs, or was compositing in this case more of a reaction to the recieved footage?

2) I was also curious about the post-process in terms of discovery. Were there things you stumbled upon, or found out new looks/concepts in post that you hadn't planned for? If so, how did they come about?

Thanks again for creating such a work of art that also happens to be a film!
  03 March 2007
Hi Grant,
It was nice to read that you've gone on to bigger and better things after leaving Perth it gives hope to rest of us living here in the VFX/Animation desert. Channel 10 had an expose on 300 a couple of weeks ago and it looks absolutely stunning so congrats to you and the rest of the team.
I'll get you a sad meal, "What's a sad Meal", they break your toy now be quiet.
  03 March 2007
Hey Grant,

my questions -

are there any easter eggs in the film?

do you think one day, with the help of special effects, that people with physical disabilities will be able to play roles in films like this? Do you see this as a possible emerging market?

and do you have any favourite old films, with great examples of art direction? Things by Ford, etc...

  03 March 2007
Hey, thanks for answering my question Grant!! Here's another more interesting question if you have time: what's the most outside-of-the-box (or memorable) technique you guys used?
  03 March 2007
Actors' Abs

Hi Grant, I have another question if you don't mind. I just saw 300 again for the second time, this time in IMAX. Both times I saw it with friends who are non-CGers and both times they all said they did not believe one bit that those were all the actors' abs. They say "Those must be CG abs, even the old guys". Now I told them that idea was impractical but also I was not 100% sure. They did not believe me because they said "you can do anything in CGI". So my question to you about this is: are all those abs real?

Thanks in advance!
  03 March 2007
melding stylized animal cg with live environment

Hello Grant, I have a question about the amount of creative license applied to the way the cg creatures were modeled and animated.

What sorts of challenges arise when trying to blend these very stylized, illustration-based creatures into a live-action scene, in terms of trying to keep the overall scene consistent enough so that the cg creatures don't stick out like a sore thumb? (I haven't seen the graphic novel, so I'm assuming the cg animals were based more on the illustrations than they were on real life anatomy)

When I'm trying to get at is...even though the creatures(specifically the wolf, elephants, and rhino) aren't meant to be exact versions of the real thing, the fact that they're being inserted into a scene with live action requires that their bodies are still subject to certain physical constraints like gravity, range/angles of limb movement, and responding to other physical impacts and barriers. How do you and/or the director decide how to guide the creative staff in striking the right balance between fantasy and reality?

There were some shots that I think were more successful at this than others. The charging rhino made me wince a bit because I just couldn't accept the way its front legs looked and moved. Then again, I am extremely OCD about these types of things so maybe it's not really an issue for anyone else, hehe..
  03 March 2007
Mindblowing and a powerful benchmark!

Grant, I must like every artist wants to make a mark, be applauded loud and turn the block least expected. Many thing, that kind of an achievement is hard and very rare. The movie 300 just shattered another such myth. Long did we all await for this movie. We have been keeping a close watch on the production diaries and Zack Snyder's daily dose of bloodshed. It all looked so very amazing. You all made film making process look so simple, yet strikingly vibrant with that style and adaptation. But wait... the most important thing was to see the impact on the big screen. And there was the answer at the BO. I watched the first show on IMAX, and it was a killer. Liked every bit of it. With such a simple and dull hue palette, the story had its feel and life. This is my salutation to the work, to the idea, to the presentation and to the entire workforce behind it. Kudos to you all. I assume, we have a lot more to look at in the coming future.

The release must have been a big day for you too. How was your feeling?

Rakesh Eligapalli
  03 March 2007
Angry Broken Hearts

I saw the trailer and the Images , and wants to congratulation about the sharp and memorable illusion and images that try to makes this movie take the promise to continue the ways of the last master pieces of it's kind, like " Lord of the Rings " and shame on that such a good responsibility take a worst path to make a deal with it. I think one the most critial cuase to make us prove our talents is to please the other eyes that are thirsty to find a way to the Home of humanity which bulit upon the hill of beauty,kindness and truth.
this Film is out of this way !

Last edited by Kardanah : 03 March 2007 at 10:50 AM.
  03 March 2007
Thumbs up

FIrst of all a great thanks to you doing this. These "meet the artist" threads are always a great way to learn something and post special questions!

I wasnīt able to watch the movie yet because itīs not out here in germany. But from what iīve seen in trailers and on pages itīs a real great piece of art and i think anyone will agree that this is because of you.

Now to my question, itīs more general and personal than about the movie but maybe you do still have the time to answer it.
So iīm from Germany and iīm already 25 years old, i never studied art or anything else and made no apprenticeship in any kind of technical or creativ industry. When i was 14 i guess i started drawing little comics, made a few portraits and so on,with 20 i made first steps in 3d i know a few about lightwave and maya but had a real slow learning curve (did typical mistakes like getting meshes from the net rather than learning modeling), i wanted to get a job in this industry at that time but it was too small in germany there wasnīt even a name for the jobs at all so i didnīt know what to do (i was real naiv too). Then i started doing 2d stuff again and 2 years ago i even started making photography, so in a way i may did things backwards by doing 3d first and then got to 2d and photography. Itīs somethign i think i got a real advantage from anyways. I visit a photo club meeting every friday and from all photographers iīm the only one with a high level of knowledge about blending photographs and 2d or 3d material.

The thing is my job i make for the living is simple and i really hate doing it. But i really like to have a home and somethign to eat so i need it *lol*
I try to learn every minute i can, i spend a lot time reading about photography 3d and conventional art, i use my handy to read websites at work, in my break i read a book, and even at the toilet i got magazines. I really learn a lot but have only so few hours in a week to try these things!
I can say that i know a lot of graphic programms and that are things like layout designs, photography and postwork iīm really familiar with, but i donīt know how to get a foot in the industry, because of my regular job i donīt even have time to do a good portfolio or something like that, i donīt have the money to start my own business or an apprenticeship (in germany an apprenticeship is very poor paid, but without a piece of paper that proofs what you supposed to be able to do itīs very very hard to get a job here)

Iīm playing with the thought of just getting in the water. To take a rather big credit and to start my own Photo and design studio ,and with time try to get in other parts of the industry too. But iīm a little afraid because i have no experience. But i really want to do something in the industry.

Well not really a question and iīm getting confused again. Well, maybe you still have a few ideas or something for me now that you know my circumstances.

Thanks, and keep on the good work, itīs really impressive and inspiring!!

Last edited by Matrixg1st : 03 March 2007 at 07:26 PM.
  03 March 2007
more answers!

Here is another batch of answers. Some of the replies are a bit short, because I'm pretty busy right now. Sorry if they're not as in depth as a last batch:


re: the elephants. Those elephant images were produced by Ben Kovar, when we were exploring different ideas. Ultimately Zack wanted the elephants to look pretty similar to how they do in the graphic novel, so Meinert Hansen produced some concept sketches based on the comic. Those were then adapted/improved upon by 3D guys Hydraulx.

re: number of matte paintings and matte painters. I don't have an exact figure for either, but given there was 60 something scenes, and 1200+ vfx shots, all I can say is there were a LOT of matte paintings, although a lot of scenes relied on only a few matte paintings that were reused over multiple shots.

re: working on a single project for a long time. Given 300 had a lot of different scenes and challenges, the 2 years I spent working on the film didn't seem like a long time at all. I think the more time you spend on a project the more rewarding it is when it turns out to be a success.

re: the Oracle. She was shot underwater. There was definite inspiration from the Cunningham Portishead music video. The FX house Screaming Death Monkey then spent a long time developing the techniques to produce the smoke, as well as painting out lots of bubbles!

re: moving illustrations as a style. My preference is to ensure that the style of the film reflects the story and the director's intentions. Although making a film that looks like 300 is 'cool', I'd hate to think that it'll result in dozens of films that adopt the style simply based on 300's financial success.

re: inspirations. When I was younger I had a lot of 'Art of..' books, so I was always looking at Ron Cobbs and Ralph Macquaries. These days I'm less into concept art so much as just looking at movies, photography, design and art in general for inspiration.


re: Watchmen . I produced the (now everywhere) Rorschach frame while working on 300. It was based on a photo that Zack took of his producer, Wes Coller, in costume. I played around with backgrounds, lighting, etc for fun. I don't believe Zack is planning on creating it in the same style as 300, it'll be a lot more location/set based. At this stage I'm not working on Watchmen, but that might change later on.

re: easter eggs. Sadly no, I didn't produce any specific easter eggs. I can't vouch for other artists working on the film though.


re: Vue infinite. I haven't used Vue, but I wouldn't rule it (or any other piece of software) out for use in the future.


re: the Crush - I hope your question was answered in the last batch of answers.

mikepol |3D|

re: the pipeline. Please refer to the Cinefex article on 300. Explaining pipelines is a long process that I sadly don't have time for right now! As for timeframe, some shots take a few days, some took 12 months to produce.

re: software platforms used. Given the number of different vendors working on the films, pretty much every major bit of 3D and 2D software was utilised on the movie.


re: getting employed. Obviously having a degree/education relating to an film/art/vfx field is a bonus, but they're not anywhere near as important as having a great portfolio or showreel. So if you're self taught, and your portfolio has some amazing work in it, then there's no reason you can't get a job in the field.


re: when I started - I started working professionally in 1998

re: fight scenes - A lot of the genius behind the fights scenes came from Zack working with stunt coordinators Damon Caro and Chad Stahelski. If you're interested in how that relates to the VFX side of things, refer to the Cinefex article on 300.


re: CGI and actors, working on set, etc - I wasn't personally involved with much on set work, that was mostly VFX Supe Chris Watts and his team. Part of the art of being a VFX supervisor on set is knowing when to prioritize the needs of the VFX department versus the needs of the director, the actors, and the other departments. On 300 we had a VERY tight shoot, 60 days to shoot a film like 300 is insanely tight. So in that situation, the approach to VFX on set is like triage. If it's an important, technically difficult VFX shot, then we'd have time to prepare, get the bluescreens and tracking markers perfect, etc. But there were dozens of shots where conditions weren't ideal, and rather than making the whole crew stop while VFX sets up another blue screen, or rather than asking Zack to shoot it another way, it was better to just shoot in and sort it out in post. To the VFX artists in post, this sounds horrible, because to them it's like 'Why didn't they get it right on set??', but if you consider the bigger picture, 1 VFX artist spending a while to rotoscope a shot is often a better option than holding up 100 crew and cast for an hour while you set up another bluescreen. So...yeah...there were a lot of shots where it was a matter of reacting to the footage, but for the most part these sorts of issues are planned for, and sorted out in hours and hours of pre production meetings.

re: post production discovery - There's always 'happy accidents' in post production. I can't think of any specific examples right now...but all I can say to that is...yes!

re: what's the most outside-of-the-box (or memorable) technique you guys used? I think Zack's use of the 'crazy horse rig', which he'd done in a few tv commercials, was pretty cool. You can read about that on or in Cinefex.

re: are all those abs real? Yes, all the abs are real, the cast worked out like crazy. There was some makeup 'enhancement' by way of airbrushing. Funnily enough, there was a sequence shot in the rain, where all this airbrushing got washed off. The cast still looked awesome without it.

re: creatures. I'm not really an expert on creature fx, but I get what you're trying to say I think we achieved varying degrees of success with the creatures. I think you can integrate any fantasy creature into a film assuming you get the lighting, shading and animation/physics correct... and to get all of these elements correct is the real challenge. I'd suggest researching the various articles you can find on films like Pirates of the CaribbeanMC or King Kong, where they really nailed CG creature FX, if you're looking for all the things you need to do to get CG creatures looking perfect.

re: The release must have been a big day for you too. How was your feeling? It was exciting and rewarding, we all knew 300 was going to be a success, but I never imagined it was going to open the way it did.
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