In the fiercely competitive world of visual effects, movie magic houses are used to scrapping for those lucrative contracts. Now a few leading suppliers of digital and foam latex fantasy are taking the battle to the scrap heap. This week’s installment of TLC’s Junkyard Mega-Wars will see Industrial Light & Magic, KNB FX and Jim Henson’s Creature Shop going mano a Muppet to build the ultimate fighting robot.
Tight schedules are nothing new to VFX crews, but in this battle royale, the teams have only two days to recycle a pile of junk into a multitasking terminator that can breathe fire, shoot bullets and save the world from an alien invasion. Each robot must compete in three rounds. First, it has to destroy as many alien invaders as it can in a “Wild West” shootout. Next, it has to torch towering aliens, which can only be destroyed by flames, in a post-apocalyptic New York setting. Finally, it will need to blast through a force field before destroying the “Mother Alien Queen” in ancient Egypt.
The machines will also be judged on how they look. That task will be given to Oscar-winning FX wizard John Richardson (Alien).
As always, the junkyard warriors will wear color-coded coveralls. The ace puppeteers from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop (Farscape, The Dark Crystal) don Kermit-green while the ILM squad (the Star Wars franchise, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Dreamcatcher) shows up in Imperial-black and the goremeisters from KNB FX (Kill Bill, Army of Darkness, Halloween, Friday the 13th) go blood red.
Junkyard Mega-Wars is hosted by Rossi Morreale, Bobbi-Sue Luther and Robert Llewellyn, with junk expert Greg Bryant commenting on the works inprogress. The VFX wizard showdown will air Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 9 p.m. on TLC (The Learning Channel).