BB Video: WATCHMEN movie CG tech with Zack Snyder (director), Des Jardin (VFX)

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In today's episode of Boing Boing Video, director Zack Snyder and visual effects supervisor John "DJ" Des Jardin give us a preview of the forthcoming movie "Watchmen" (Wikipedia, IMDB, trailer). On March 6, the hallowed graphic novel deemed "unfilmable" will hit theaters.

Will the long-awaited adaptation of writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons' dark eighties comic soar, or stink? The more intense the fandom around a classic, the more intense the fear that a filmmaker will screw it up, and few titles are as revered as this one. From what we saw during this preview with fans at the Apple store in Santa Monica, I am inclined to be very optimistic.

Both Snyder and Des Jardin spoke with us about the challenges of bringing "Watchmen" from novel to CG-driven feature form. In today's episode we explore that challenge through the making of one character: Dr. Manhattan. The filmmakers contended with interesting creative and technical obstacles, which involved the fact that Manhattan is (a) pretty much nude, and (b) luminous. Actor Billy Crudup plays the stoic, white-eyed protagonist, and they used a sort of LED bodysuit to create the melded "real"/CG persona we see on screen. Blue superhero man-junk was a subject of serious discussion.


Snyder revealed that a 3 hour and ten minute long director's cut of "Watchmen" will come out in July. A DVD will follow in the fall, which he described as the "Crazy Ultimate Freaky Edition" to include extras such as "Tales of the Black Freighter," the death of Hollis Mason, extra scenes with Dr. Manhattan on Mars, and more. MTV News has an item with details.

The event at which this Boing Boing Video episode was taped was a part of Apple's ongoing "Meet The Filmmaker" series hosted at Apple Stores throughout the US. The series is free, and this one was packed with trufans clutching copies of the comic, or wearing "Watchmen" smileyface shirts. It was fun to see fans get a chance to ask questions directly. There will be another event with members of the cast at the Apple Store SoHo on March 5.

Apple also has some cool "Watchmen" content offered through iTunes (trailers, cast video journals, a cool iPhone/iPod touch application available in the App Store, and so on.) And you can search for "Meet the Filmmaker" in the iTunes store for a podcast series which includes the raw audio feed from this event (I think it's about 2 hours long?) as well as podcasts from other "Watchmen" events.

As an aside: Des Jardin was the associate visual effects supervisor on Matrix 2 and 3, with John Gaeta, who has appeared in previous original video episodes on Boing Boing (parts 1, part 2).

Special thanks to all the Boing Boing friends on Twitter who submitted questions for Snyder and Des Jardin. Many of these made it into the episode!

And one more goodie: lots of photos at the Official Watchmen flickr stream.

Update: Wil Wheaton says the movie is "awesome," and here's his review, sans spoilers.