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Visual FX Supervisor Laurel Klick

From Film Cleaner to Emmy Winner By Frank Moldstad
Laurel Klick with Visual Effects Emmy for Dune.
Laurel Klick began her career as a performance artist. But since performance art was not a good way to make a living, she took odd jobs to pay the rent. One of those jobs was cleaning film for an obscure movie. The movies name was Star Wars.

With that auspicious beginning, she worked her way into optical effects production, becoming skilled with the use of models, optical cameras and blue screens, later making the segue into digital when the industry changed. Throughout her career, however, shes found that performance art is a valuable background for special effects creation. Elements such as timing that are crucial in creating believable effects are also vital aspects of performance art.

Klick has worked at R. Greenberg & Assoc., Manhattan Transfer, ILM, Available Light Ltd. and Netter Digital, and is now a visual effects supervisor at Cinesite in Los Angeles, where she has just wrapped effects for The Mothman Prophecies, a Lakeshore Entertainment production starring Richard Gere that opens theatrically in February 2002. Klick is supervising the creation of a CG bridge with a complete 3D environment, and her team is also responsible for the manifestations of the Mothman character in the film. Her other film credits include Terminator, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Last Action Hero, Braveheart, Dead Presidents, Mortal Kombat and My Favourite Martian.

Winning an Emmy
DMN: What was it like to win an Emmy?

Klick: I was really excited. People always say “It’s OK, I didn’t win.” I really wanted to win. There was no doubt in my mind. I most likely would have been a little upset if I hadn’t.

DMN: What did you do in Dune, and how many shots did you produce?

Klick: Somewhere around 100 shots. A lot of 3D, it was probably 50-50 3D/2D. The platform was LightWave for the 3D and After Effects for the 2D on NT stations. With the types of shots we had, we sort of divided them. Ernie Farino was the Effects Supervisor for the production company, and on the digital end we divided the types of shots between the three different companies.

We got the shots which actually I consider the most fun, which were the things that were probably the least defined. We got the Water of Life sequence… so what does Water of Life look like? We got the Navigator Arrival, which included folding space. What does folding space look like? (continued on next page)

This year, one of the highlights of her career was sharing in an Emmy for Outstanding Special Visual Effects on the SCI FI presentation of Frank Herbert's DUNE, a six-hour mini-series produced while she was a visual effects supervisor at Netter Digital. The complete list of those who shared the Emmy includes: Ernest Farino, Visual Effects Supervisor; Tim McHugh, Visual Effects Supervisor; Laurel Klick, Visual Effects Supervisor; Frank H. Isaacs, Visual Effects Supervisor; Elaine Essex Thompson, Visual Effects Coordinator; James Healy, Lead Special Effects Supervisor; Gregory Nicotero, Lead Special Effects Supervisor; Anthony Alderson, CGI Supervisor; Chris Zapara, Lead CGI Animator.

We talked with Laurel Klick about the the process of creating visual effects, winning an Emmy, and The Mothman Prophecies as she was in the final stages of finishing effects for Mothman.

Digital Media Net: Whats your background?

Klick: I got my degree in art, and then I did performance art. I did a lot of political performance art in the 70s -- all during the 60s and 70s I was pretty politically active. There was a real strong womens art movement here in Los Angeles that I was part of.

DMN: What was that called, was it a formal group?

Klick: The hub of it was a womens building that was here in LA at the Old Chouinard school. Before Cal Arts became Cal Arts, it was the Chouinard Arts School. There was a building with classes for the art school and a graphic center, and there was also a larger art community that was pretty much on the edge.

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Related Keywords:effects, production, special, Laurel Klick, ILM, Star Wars, Mothman, Dune

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