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Chris MacLean — Overall VFX Supervisor, “Foundation”

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Chris MacLean’s incredible career in VFX has transported him from documentaries on Cretaceous dinosaurs to the far-flung future for Foundation, Apple TV+’s bold adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s genre-defining sci-fi novels. Along the way, Chris has created and supervised VFX for movies and TV series, including Crimson Peak, Godless, American Gods, Resident Evil, and many more.

Having worked his way up from artist to second-unit director, Chris has a unique perspective on filmmaking and how the crew comes together. Chris also talks about making Foundation, including how they found the series’ extraterrestrial locations here on Earth, avoided blue screens, and even digitally simulated the vintage lenses used on the physical shoot. Chris also shares his informed perspectives on new technology, including Gaussian Splatting, in-camera VFX, and AI. 

Links:

Chris MacLean on IMDb >

Chris MacLean on Instagram >

Maclean Visual Effects >

Chris MacLean on X >

Watch Foundation on Apple TV+ > 


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0:05:06 Getting started in VFX with Natural History documentaries

0:09:39 What inspired Chris to pursue his career

0:15:01 Imitating lenses and perfecting anatomy

0:20:55 How VFX are evolving and guassian splatting

0:26:26 What are the new standards for VFX?

0:28:24 The importance of "Godless" and "Crimson Peak" in Chris' career

0:33:34 Icelandic winters and unexploded ordinance: Making "Foundation"

0:38:04 How "Foundation's" scope has expanded

0:41:01 Avoiding the blue screen mentality when making "Foundation"

0:43:52 Thoughts on in-camera VFX and AR

0:50:43 How VFX artists are gaining respect

0:56:33 How AI and machine learning can help VFX

1:00:36 Avoiding the uncanny valley

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About the author

Christopher Nichols

Chris is a CG industry veteran and Director of Chaos Labs. He can also be heard regularly as the host of the CG Garage podcast which attracts 20,000 weekly listeners. With a background in both VFX and Design, Chris has worked for Gensler, Digital Domain, Imageworks and Method Studios. His credits include Maleficent, Oblivion and Tron: Legacy.

Originally published: April 29, 2024.
© Škoda Design

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