VFX Questions (5 replies and 1 comment)
I stumbled upon a few VFX breakdown reels for movies that you shot and had a few questions regarding the workflow. What is your process when it comes working on a VFX heavy film? Do you stay close with the VFX supervisors? Do you show up to any VFX dailies meetings and give input regarding the overall lighting, or composition?
When Roger and I are working on a film, we work very closely with the VFX Producer and Supervisor. In the prep, there are meetings to go over every VFX that is intended in the film. In those meetings, we talk about what the intent of the effect is, how we shoot the shot and what they will be adding to the shot. During the shoot, I speak with them every day on set. Some times, the shot changes on the fly and we go through what how that affects the effect. If we've changed something on the camera, I'll let them know. After we finish shooting, we view the VFX in various stages and add comments. Because Roger is ultimately responsible for creating the visual look of the film, he likes to be involved with VFX throughout. Otherwise, we are rejecting shots at the DI phase, which isn't fun for anyone!!
Thanks for the information, James! It's good to know that there is a strong involvement in the VFX process. I thought that DP's usually just go their separate path after principal photography and don't bother to interact with the VFX artists finishing up the film. I'm glad to know thats not the case with cinematographers like Roger. His visual style is very uniform throughout a VFX heavy film, especially with matte paintings. The Wallace HQ scene from BR 2049 is a masterclass about the nature of light.
I would point out that the effects work for those Wallace HQ scenes did not involve any of the lighting. These scenes were made on very large sets and all the lighting effects were 'in camera', including all the 'water' patterns on the walls. Even the opening wide shot of K entering the building was done 'in camera'. We shot the small figures as an element and they were later inserted into a shot of a model that I lit with the moving 'sunlight' effect.
The sad thing about BladeRunner 2049 is that many of the shots are assumed to be VFX and they're not. It's more fun to do it in camera!
It's so beautiful how you can use caustics as a storytelling tool. Correct me if i'm wrong, but you stated that you gained the inspiration for this technique while looking through an architecture catalog. Are there any specific catalogs you follow that inspire you?
I was also interested about the development of this opening shot of a scene following the Wallace HQ scene. It deserves so much more recognition cause it's simply stunning. Seeing the light naturally bounce around the room and illuminate the room in a subtle fashion is something I can watch over and over. I saw on RodeoFX's 2049 breakdown reel that it is 2 shots composed as one. Is the set extension a miniature?
Shot starts at 2:28 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMk99drt1B4»
Breakdown of shot at 0:33 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxLd7FkZJeA»
For the first interior of Wallace Corp. We shot a miniature to define the movement of the light, the color and intensity. In that first image the figure and the immediate set around the figure are in camera and then the two are combined.
That reel shows clearly how much of the effects work is in camera and how much is extension work, for which we sometimes shot elements.
Of course, all the flying work was CG and we only shot the Spinners and the characters in a lighting environment equivalent to what would be added digitally. But we also shot a miniature for some of the flying work. Denis was adamant that he wanted 'in camera' references whenever possible even though they would be manipulated afterwards.
Following on with the idea of shooting as much as possible for real we had an aerial unit, cinematographer Dylan Goss, shoot plates of solar panels in California and Spain, the architecture of Mexico City, the terrain of Iceland and the skyline of Las Vegas, all of which had to be shot in overcast light. Of these the Las Vegas plates were manipulated the most but the actual template of the camera movement through the skyscrapers did, I think, add a realism to the futuristic journey of K through that city. The city looked quite different but it was the camera move relative to it's surroundings that was key.
Dylan's shots of the black volcanic landscape of Iceland combined with the Solar arrays formed the backgrounds for the opening of 'BR2049' and his Mexico City, shot on a very dark and threatening afternoon, formed a perfect basis for K's entry to our city.