- VFX artists were surprised to learn that the robots in Automata were practical, with CGI effects added. The majority of the robot is real, with small CG pieces added to match.
- Constructing the robots in real life better serves the movie overall, making them appear more tangible and impressive. Having something to interact with on set helps with filming.
- Despite comparisons to other sci-fi movies like Blade Runner, the practical puppets used for the robots in Automata make them memorable and may encourage audiences to revisit the film.
VFX artists fail to recognize practical robots in the overlooked Antonio Banderas sci-fi movie Automata. The film, directed by Gabe Ibáńez, premiered in 2014 and follows Jacq Vaucan (Banderas), an insurance agent working for the ROC who realizes that their technology is beginning to alter itself. At the time of its release, while Automata received particular praise for its visuals, the use of familiar genre elements became a source of criticism among audiences. In addition to Banderas, the movie stars Dylan McDermott, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Tim McInnerny, Melanie Griffith, and Robert Forster.
In the Corridor Crew‘s latest video, VFX artists looked at footage from Automata and were surprised to learn that the robots were practical. Though effects were still added, Wren pointed out that what is shown on-screen is mostly “analog,” and explained how CGI would have been used. Niko also noted that being able to cut certain things out of a film can be advantageous. Read some of their comments regarding Automata‘s robots below and check out that portion of the video, at around the 5:26 mark:
Wren: “A lot of the time, the stuff that they have to paint out is actually covering part of the robot, so they have to add back in pieces of the robot that don’t actually exist, or maybe they do exist, but they’re being added in CG, like her shins here on the robot are being added back in. It’s still, like the majority of that robot is photo real because it is real, so the small pieces that are CG, you already have something perfect to like match it to. As long as you get it to the point that it doesn’t draw your eye, it works.“
Why The Robots In Automata Are So Impressive
It’s interesting to think about what the robots might have looked like had they been completely CGI, but constructing them in real life better serves the movie overall. By employing practical puppets, Automata‘s robots appear more tangible, which is impressive considering everything they do, from operating moving vehicles to pulling a wounded Jacq. As Corridor Crew mentioned in their video, the effects are less noticeable, and having something to interact with on set can help with filming as well.
When it comes to the story and the robots’ role in it, many have drawn comparisons to 1982’s Blade Runner starring Harrison Ford, along with other sci-fi movies. Automata‘s setting portrays the devastation of humankind, brought on by a string of solar storms. The robots, known as Pilgrims, were built to preserve whatever life remained and, as the movie revealed, could be controlled through protocols, making them unable to endanger humans or change their own programming.
Despite the similarities, the robots in Automata may remain memorable among fans of the genre once they learn that they were really practical puppets. It is interesting to see how even VFX artists failed to recognize that, and could perhaps lead some audiences to visit the 2014 film again.
Source: Corridor Crew