The Review
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Painting TROOPERS' World
A great deal of digital matte paintings populate STARSHIP TROOPERS' visual effects, expanding the scope of the film in various ways. In each individual case, the paintings add depth and detail to scenes that needed to express the huge scale of the film. The matte paintings for the film were created by Mark Sullivan and his company Compound Eye, and in some cases were used as elements composited by other houses.

Hundreds of troops file into their dropships, ready for battle.
The first such digital matte painting is a quick tilt down from the future Buenos Aires' skyline. The painting itself is quite impressive--the windows and reflections are quite realistic. However, there seems to be a great deal of mist between the camera and the skyline, making the shot look a lot like an old-fashioned traditional matte painting.

Nearly all the other matte shots are stunning in their own right - the 'after' shot of Buenos Aires, after the destruction of the city, is mind bogglingly pretty. A shot that the audience would never suspect as an effects shot is a terrific expansion of the boot camp location, where numerous other tents and training areas were painted into a composite.

But probably the most dramatic of all the matte paintings is also one of the most invisible. The jaw-dropping shot of hundreds of troopers running into their drop ships inside an enormous bay of a Fleet ship contains many real life elements, and a great deal of matte painting elements. The shot is reminiscent of the classic matte paintings from the STAR WARS trilogy. The slight pan and tilt added to the shot really helps sell the effect.

Odds & Ends
Particularly inventive and interesting is a series of highly invisible effects in one of the film's early sequences. Michael Ironside's character, missing his left arm, walks around a classroom with only half of his arm. In reality, Ironside's real arm was sometimes visible in the shots, so it was painstakingly (and invisibly) removed from each frame. As Johnny Rico is being whipped, a digital whip was realistically animated and composited into the daylight shots, as well as the revealing of Rico's

"Nearly every composite in the film was handled with a great level of competence and consistency."

bloody scars. These particular shots are completely invisible, and fully integrated into the surrounding footage. These smaller scale effects, as well as plenty of other shots not related to arachnids or space sequences, were handled by industry veteran Pete Kuran and his company, VCE.

Because of the massive shot count of STARSHIP TROOPERS (over 500 shots), there are plenty of sequences and shots that cannot be commented on. Suffice it to say that nearly every composite in the film was handled with a great level of competence and consistency.

The visual effects work on STARSHIP TROOPERS is a culmination of hundreds' of artists working for dozens of months. The communication between houses and within houses needed was absolutely critical to create the stunning visual effects presented in the film. The movie will certainly be remembered for having some of the most remarkable and ambitious visual effects of any science fiction film in history.

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