Posts Tagged With: Post-production

Street Alteration: Final stages and set dressing

elements of street dress

After working on some of the CGI background and graffiti I needed to turn my attentions to the actual set dressing that would  include rubbish, signs, a burnt out car and dirty streets in general. I designed a replacement sign for the fish bar above and changed it to the burger bar in the story. I also needed to dirty the brick work of the existing buildings, board up some of the windows with designed wooden boards. The background also included an abandoned train carriage. This was collage’d in from a photo and would be part of the CGI background. The car was also collage’d in but would be a set dress rather than CGI.

street alter with shop windows a

Theses pictures show the addition of set dressing components as they were added.

Below picture shows the dirtying up of the building fronts.That would be done using water-based paint so it can be removed easily. It also includes the burnt out train.

street concept stage 4

Below the image shows the addition of some fly tipping on the far right and the burnt out car. I have also added some street lights as it’s night and one or two of the buildings are inhabited.

street concept car lights

The final stages were about filling the street with bags of rubbish that hadn’t been collected, loose rubbish and papers, alteration of lighting and just generally blending and tidying the image. I also added a larger bin into the foreground and some blending of the figures so they fitted the scene.

 

street concept car rubbish 3

 

Final stage from this….

alteration 1

….to this.

street concept final orange

The final image.

The street alteration needed to look like a dystopian society that had a more post apocalyptic feel. The city is generally uncared for, rubbish is left, people are rioting and setting fires. But the streets are still inhabited, so that meant there had to be life and places where people lived and worked. There is a burger bar, there are places in the city that will sell cigarettes, papers etc albeit limited stock. It was about creating a scene that incorporated CGI and potential post production techniques as well as traditional location scouting and set dressing.

The visual needs to portray the background to pass onto the digital matte painters. It will also need some visual effects due to movement in the background of search lights, maybe a moving train, movement in the clouds etc. to create a dynamic, believable scene.

There were some other items that could have been added such as a shopping trolley, dead flowers etc. I tried adding the shopping trolley and some more piles of rubbish and it started to look a bit too staged, after all it is a street that is still used with people running a business or a shop albeit dirty and run down.

I decided to keep the sky a murky orange green to show the fires off in the distance and the pollution. In heavily built up areas skies do take on an orange glow, this of course is emphasised for this scene.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: MA Practical Project, MA project, Post Production, post-apocalyptic film and design, sketchbook and visual diary, The production designer and art department | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Case Study 2: Discussions With Production Designer Guy Hendrix Dyas 2

I found an interview that shows what Guy Hendrix Dyas thinks about Production Design and the process as a whole. I have selected the parts of the interview that is most relevant to my question and project. The link for the full interview is found below in the references.

 

Angela Mitchell: Congratulations to you and your team on your BAFTA and many other awards for Inception! How did it feel to be nominated for an Oscar for the first time?

Guy Hendrix Dyas: It was exciting for us — it’s a rewarding experience, and it encourages everyone to keep producing the best work they can. It’s always nice to get a pat on the back from your peers. You have to learn to appreciate those moments.

Angela Mitchell: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about being a production designer?

Guy Hendrix Dyas: The biggest misconception is that it’s simply about creating sets — production design is very abstract to those who don’t work in the film industry. In my experience, however, the designer is the director’s key ally when creating the look for a film, along with the director of photography. We’re asked to create much more than just sets, we create entire worlds and time periods. It’s very exciting.

Angela Mitchell: You started out doing industrial design, and then an incredible amount of work as an illustrator before concentrating on Production Design. Do you still ever use any of that industrial design foundation in your work today?

Guy Hendrix Dyas: I’m very grateful to have had solid training in industrial design before I even set foot in the film world. Not only did it allow me to develop a very practical design sense but it also made me strive for realism no matter the genre of film I’m working on — fantasy, historical, contemporary. That training was also a great way to learn everything there is to know about manufacturing and construction.

Angela Mitchell: When did you know that production design was going to be your calling?

Guy Hendrix Dyas: While in art school, I attended a film lecture series called “Grand Illusions,” and it opened my eyes to the behind-the-scenes of filmmaking, and the various careers open to those of us who come from a design background. I’ve always loved art and films, and as a student I was an avid filmgoer, seeing every movie I could, and always taking notice of the production design.

Angela Mitchell: When it comes to the work of other designers, which do you admire?

Guy Hendrix Dyas: I try and see every film I can, and a wide variety of genres, so there are many contemporary designers that I admire. From the large-scale designs of Ken Adam, Stuart Craig and Dante Ferretti, to the more intimate work of designers like David Gropman, Mark Friedberg,Timmy Yip and Ben van Os. But truthfully, it’s hard to name names because my list goes on…

Angela Mitchell: It seems to me that, just from reading the script, Inception would be a designer’s dream, a real playground. One of the many things I loved about your job for Inception, was how balanced it was, visually, between structure and chaos. How tricky was it to find that balance?

Guy Hendrix Dyas: Inception had many challenging sets to build, but it also offered us many wonderful design opportunities, while having to accommodate some extremely intricate action scenes and stunts.

For example, to create the illusion of weightlessness during the fight sequences in the hotel corridors and rooms, several identical sets had to be built. Each one was created for a specific shot and had a specific orientation and rotating capability. When these shots were edited together, they became convincing as appearing to have been shot on a single set.

With the scope of a film like Inception, also come the logistical challenges. We shot back to back in five different countries. We got used to the 16-hour days and being on planes every 48 hours!

Angela Mitchell: Was Escher’s work a deliberate inspiration for some of the Inception set pieces? What were some of your visual inspirations for the film?

Guy Hendrix Dyas: Escher and Penrose Staircase were directly referenced in our script. In the film, our Penrose steps are based on an optical illusion [the Penrose Staircase], made famous by Escher’s drawings — an ever-ascending staircase that can never be built or made functional in the real world.

Which is why it took us many hours of research and development to create the set that you see in the film. There’s practically no CG used to shoot the scene, just some support removal and clever camera work.

Angela Mitchell: Designwise, in Inception, it seemed to me that there was always this beautiful and very clear visual contrast between the linear and chaotic, and between tension and release — for instance, in the gorgeous hallway sequence you mentioned earlier, where Joseph Gordon-Levitt battles a bad guy in 360 degrees! What scene or moment presented your favorite challenge for the film?

Guy Hendrix Dyas: One of the most challenging sets to build was the snow fortress for the end sequence, because we chose to shoot it in a remote area in the high mountains of Calgary. Chris Nolan uses CG very cleverly and for Inception, he didn’t want a film primarily using digital backgrounds. So very early on, Chris and I made a crude clay model of this set, as he wanted to create something akin to what he’d seen in some of his favorite Bond films. That’s how we came up with a mix between military architecture and Panopticon prison design for the snow fortress, our concept being to never really know who is the observer and who is being observed.

It quickly became apparent to us that this set would have to be divided into two separate builds. The interiors would be built on stage in Los Angeles, while the multi-level exterior would be built at approximately 20,000 feet on a mountainous site we scouted in Calgary.

We started building the exterior set with a Canadian construction crew in late summer, right after returning from shooting in Morocco, in order to have it completed before the heavy snow set in for the winter. We were very conscious of this location’s natural beauty, so we avoided using concrete foundations. Instead, to anchor the set, we dropped large wood posts into foundations filled with water and let them freeze into place.

Angela Mitchell: It’s terrific that you were able to take such care for the natural environment there.

Guy Hendrix Dyas: Despite a few blizzards, we were really fortunate to have perfect weather conditions, and during the shoot you could actually see the real snow blowing across the set, and the amazing mountains behind it. It was a testament to how great it is to be able to shoot on location, with real conditions.

Angela Mitchell: Set decorator Douglas A. Mowat was also nominated alongside you for the Art Direction Oscar this year — how do the Production Designer and Set Decorator typically work together?

Guy Hendrix Dyas: A good example was the work we did on the Japanese castle sets. As per our script we knew that Saito, Ken Watanabe’s character in the film, would be imprisoned in a castle, but to me it made sense that it would be a Japanese castle. This gave my set decorating team and I a chance to create a subtle, dreamlike quality, especially when it came to choosing colors, materials, lighting and furnishings.

Angela Mitchell: There’s a definitely a richness, glow, and texture to all the scenes there. It’s very tactile.

Guy Hendrix Dyas: The hundreds of lanterns strung along the ceiling were based on something I’d seen in Japanese temples during certain traditional holidays. It was a way to add interest and warmth to this scene without cluttering the space. Our furnishings were minimal because the painted gold leaf murals and the glow from the lanterns were all that Japanese dining room really needed to come alive.

Angela Mitchell: What was it like to work with Christopher Nolan?

Guy Hendrix Dyas: It was a great experience, I learned a lot, and also felt I was given the freedom to contribute as many ideas as possible for each set. Chris is a great leader, and that’s what you need on a technically complicated film like Inception.

Angela Mitchell: What are the challenges involved when you’re designing for an existing franchise, like X2: X-Men United, Superman Returns, or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? I loved the way you managed to open up those worlds and give us these very different looks and feels, from the school attack in X2, to Lex Luthor’s yacht, to the inside of the pyramid in Indy…

Guy Hendrix Dyas: I think one of the most important goals of production design is to be able to satisfy a story and a director’s vision, so by definition this means that every film should be a completely new experience. Directors are really the ones guiding the way, and our aim is to bring their visions to life. Even when working on existing brands or franchises, I hope that my designs appear as different as the films and stories being told.

If there’s a constant, it’s perhaps the fact that every film is a learning process, and that for designers, it’s nice to be able to take each experience and the things you feel were the most successful into your next assignment — after a while, you start assembling your own personal bag of tricks.

Angela Mitchell: If you were going to advise a roomful of production design hopefuls, what would you say to them, and what mistakes would you caution them to avoid?

Guy Hendrix Dyas: I think we all make mistakes. That’s part of the learning process. But if you love your job on a day-to-day basis and you’re passionate about what you do, you’ll find a way to make it work.

Also, the challenges for me never come from the actual act of designing, but rather from the time and budget constraints. Although in many ways, smaller-budget films aren’t always harder to design than big-budget films.

Angela Mitchell: That’s really surprising.

Guy Hendrix Dyas: Because everything is proportional. A film that has ten times more money will usually have ten times more to create, and ten times the expectations to meet. Studios and producers simply don’t give you free money no matter the size of the production — everything is carefully accounted for, and bigger is rarely easier when it comes to films. I think that’s a common misconception.

Angela Mitchell: Do you typically sketch things out by hand in your design process, or on computer – or a combination of the two? What tools do you typically use?

Guy Hendrix Dyas: People in films seem to come from all walks of life, but in my case, the many years I spent at art and design school were very useful, as I draught, sketch, paint, sculpt and make models.

For each film, I sketch as much as possible — not only because I enjoy it as a design process, but because it’s still the best communication tool. Then, if time permits, I try to take my pencil sketches into color – however, more and more, I also work with a great team of illustrators who help me assemble the visuals we need.

Angela Mitchell: How do you approach each new film project — do you have a specific process each time?

Guy Hendrix Dyas: I think I approach each new film in the same way other designers do, in that I try and sketch out as many ideas as possible while also researching as much as possible – everything from the subject matter, to the architecture, to reading relevant books, watching documentaries, and visiting museums. I find those early days of preproduction very enjoyable, as you’re able to let your imagination run wild, and everything is still possible.

Angela Mitchell: Among the movies you’ve worked on, which were most satisfying for you, from an artistic standpoint, where you looked at the film and said, “That’s exactly what I wanted it to look like?”

Guy Hendrix Dyas: As your design credits accumulate, it’s true that one can start to discern patterns and preferences, but I’ve tried to avoid typecasting as much as possible. I’m excited by a variety of projects, and I think I’ve been able to break the mold by not always doing films considered to be big Hollywood films. Right after X2, for instance, I joined Terry Gilliam on The Brothers Grimm in Eastern Europe. I find those transitions healthy — every film is a new beginning.

Still, more often than not, the projects that come your way, and that you end up working on, are due to coincidence and lucky timing more than anything else. For me, every film is satisfying, it’s always as interesting and as visually pervading as you and the director want to it to be.

I feel very fortunate to say that all the films I’ve designed so far have brought me unique and wonderful experiences, and each in its own way has been my favorite. However, like many people in this industry, I try and keep my eyes on the road ahead — my hope is always that the best experiences are still to come.

 

 

“The biggest misconception is that it is simply about creating sets”

Dyas continues to confirm and also echoes some of the ideas of Alex McDowell in the fact that the role of the production design is abstract and doesn’t always work in a linear form. Again, it’s very much about world building and seeing the story as a whole.

 

“Chris Nolan uses CG very cleverly and for Inception, he didn’t want a film primarily using digital backgrounds. So very early on, Chris and I made a crude clay model of this set, as he wanted to create something akin to what he’d seen in some of his favorite Bond films.”

Another example of using traditional techniques in a technologically advanced film. They used a location to get the right feel and again used visual metaphors of being watched.

 

“Also, the challenges for me never come from the actual act of designing, but rather from the time and budget constraints. Although in many ways, smaller-budget films aren’t always harder to design than big-budget films.”

Here he discusses the budget, saying that the design is proportional to the size of film and budget. Budget will also play a large part in the production designers role at the early stages of film design. This will sometimes affect whether a set is built, location is used or a whole view is CGI. Titanic used a scale model to create a set, then CGI’d it in behind the actors instead of building a room for budget reasons. I had no budget to work with so designed the set to be built. This could of course been a CGI background or a model. Should the budget require that, It could easily be achieved using traditional methods of model making with advanced CGI to place the action into shot.

 

“I think I approach each new film in the same way other designers do, in that I try and sketch out as many ideas as possible while also researching as much as possible – everything from the subject matter, to the architecture, to reading relevant books, watching documentaries, and visiting museums ”

This is an important statement in terms of what the designer does at the pre-production stage in that the process is entirely immersive in terms of research.

 

It’s clear from what I have seen of Guy Hendrix Dyas’s work that he is involved from the start in what the film will look like right through to the set extensions and CGI. He provided a visual foundation for the overall design of the film, from researching the architecture through to locations, then on to how the CGI would be incorporated. Where traditional processes were needed or wanted, he was involved in their design. CGI is a tool like any other so providing that visual source material at the early stage of design is important in films that have so many concepts and needs to use multiple post-production techniques. Films like Science fiction and fantasy will always have challenges and having technology that speeds up the process can only be a good thing as it means the designer can oversee at the whole picture at a much faster pace. The important point to note is that post production/CGI etc. does not become a distraction and that it supports the design rather than becomes  a way of life.

 

Interview references:-

(MITCHELL, A., Production Designer Guy Hendrix Dyas on the Challenges of ‘Inception’) Available at:-

(http://performingarts.about.com/od/Costumes/ss/Inception-Production-Designer-Talks-About-Designing-The-Films-Dreamscapes.htm) [Online: sourced on 17/05/14]

Categories: Case Studies, MA project, Post Production, The production designer and art department | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Case Study 2: Discussions with Production Designer Guy Hendrix Dyas

Guy Hendrix Dyas discusses aspects of the design for Inception:-

Dyas also pointed out a telling sign of Nolan’s directorial philosophy: if you look at the accompanying image, you will see scaffolding supporting the stairs. Most other directors would use a green screen to create the effect: Nolan wanted the stairs built, and then used visual effects only to remove the scaffolding and complete the illusion. “Only about 5 percent of the scenes in this film actually use green screen,” Dyas says. “You’re talking about a film that has real rotating corridors, elevator shafts that were built sideways in warehouses so that it would appear 300 feet long. We have tilting bars, real trains smashing into cars.”  Guy Hendrix Dyas discussing design for Inception(LOPEZ, J., 2011)

cn_image_1.size.inception-stairs

Image available at http://www.vanityfair.com/online/oscars/2011/01/inception [sourced on 17/05/2014]

In a film that is so ground breaking in terms of CGI and  post production techniques the statement that only 5% of scenes were green screen is surprising. It’s an important point to make when looking at what the designer has to do at the pre-production stage when dealing with the newest technology; that green screen and CGI is only used when really needed.

The early stages of Inception’s design process started in Director Christopher Nolan’s garage with Dyas creating a 60 ft scroll depicting the history of 20th century architecture. This became the foundation for the design of the film because architecture was so important to the overall ideas surrounding the story. It was all about building landscapes within the dreams of the main character and reflecting his state of mind. Much of this was done through the architectural landscape that they inhabited  with scenes depicting DiCaprio’s character.

“You’ll notice at as it stretches back, the buildings get taller. I imagine Cobb and his wife started off on the beach, building buildings that were homages to their heroes of architecture. As they built more and more, they were building their own 3D museum of the most stunning architecture.” Discussing how the architecture influenced the film (LOPEZ, J., 2011)

When Cobb returns with Ariadne to the dream city, however, they find it in total disrepair—again a design concept with a specific idea behind it: “The mere fact that they were eroding away into the sea, and the sea was eating into these buildings, was another visual method of showing that he was losing his mind,” he says. Dyas and Nolan discussed the look and feel of architecture that had been abandoned, specifically at the site of the Chernobyl accident, and had the good fortune of coming across a housing site in disrepair during a drive around Tangiers, which became the final set for the abandoned dream city. (LOPEZ, J., 2011)

The film is full of metaphors and symbolism such as the crumbling buildings representing the loss of mind. Visual metaphors are another aspect of design that is discussed at the pre-viz stage of production. It’s important that the visual clues match the story that is being told, whether they are subtle or not. Inception was full of these visuals such as the maze like Penrose steps; a Escher inspired set that was actually built in reality. This was to echo the ‘fetish-like obsession with stairs.

“We went through 12 different physical cardboard models of the Penrose steps before we came up with something that worked,” Dyas says. “Once we did that, we created a digital model and started looking at what camera lenses would make this look like an Escher painting. Only then did we start building a staircase. Dyas discusses the steps. (LOPEZ, J., 2011)

They continue the maze like feel of the film with many of the interiors such as the Great Hall, with levels and steps and included other visual symbolism such as the use of lanterns. Dyas pointed out that in Japan lanterns are a symbol of lost souls, so this was incorporated into the design.

cn_image_2.size.inception-temple

Image available at http://www.vanityfair.com/online/oscars/2011/01/inception [sourced on 17/05/2014]

What’s important to note at this stage is that design is not all about creating a set for the actors to inhabit, it’s also about world creation and visual pointers to what the Director envisages ultimately what the characters are feeling, how that translates on-screen. In my set design I wanted the government buildings such as the Medical Research Centre to have a clean, more ordered feel compared to the dirty streets of London. It needed to feel imposing in some way. There is also a claustrophobic feel to the entire film. The research centre is underground and had to feel like that. I kept the colours to cool blue and grey hues for the interiors apart from the arena space which has a blend of future and medieval, though the future has almost reverted back to the past in many ways. Outside, the streets have an urban look that uses green/brown colours. It’s organic but dirty and uncared for. The Medical research centre also has a church like feel with eyes being drawn upwards towards the laboratories and levels above. Science playing God. The arena that houses the Huntsmen being even deeper could be viewed as a form of hell. My street alteration also incorporates elements of symbolism with the use of eyes in the graffiti and wings of a dove. I am trying to create a cluttered suppressing environment in which you feel that you are being watched. The towers in the background with the search lights add to that, creating a prison like environment. In the book, London is walled in, no one can leave and they keep the cities and the countryside apart.

Looking at the practicalities of set building my walkway would be constructed with scaffolding very much like the Penrose steps in Inception. This would be clad but should the walkway need extra support, scaffolding poles could be CGI’d out. This would be an effective way to use CGI instead of creating an entire set digitally. Only using the technology where it is needed.

The early stages of film design are not just about research and sets, it’s about the whole philosophy of the film, world building, subtle visual messages etc. These aspects are discussed at the pre-production stage, whether CGI is used or not.

 

References:-

LOPEZ, J., Inception Production Designer Guy Dyas: “Only 5 Percent of Our Scenes Used Green Screen” Available at:- http://www.vanityfair.com/online/oscars/2011/01/inception. 2011 [Online-sourced on 17/05/2014]

 

Categories: Case Studies, MA project, Post Production, The production designer and art department | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concepts and Visuals for Reception Design and CGI Extension

The space beyond the walkway in the reception build is purely CGI work due to height restrictions. Here the set theoretically stretches several floors above. For my project I wanted this area to be a narrow tube like space with light emanating from above that also appears to light up a section of the floor below. It needed to follow on from the set below. This is important for the overall look of the set and ultimately the whole film. CGI needs to fit with the design of the space that the actors inhabit, the directors vision and work with the script. The production designer’s role is to ensure that all this happens and this starts very early in the pre production stage with pre-viz meetings between companies such as Double Negative and Framestore and the designer/directors etc (as researched in earlier posts).

At this stage research is completed, visuals developed, CGI and VFX are discussed and models, concepts, technical drawings are developed.  Locations are also sourced. The reception area of my design was to be my main build and incorporate CGI into the design. For this reason I needed to know how the green screen would allow the set to be extended and what I wanted the extension to look like to ensure that the continuity of the design was not compromised. This would follow through to all sets, particularly those that use CGI mattes and effects.

I have worked through potential ideas and come up with a set of visual/concept guidelines for this reason.

Below, a drawing and colour version of the main set build showing the colour, lighting and space where the set would be extended above the walkway.

concept rec contrast

rec concept last stage 2

Below are a set of visuals and a concept painting for the CGI extension as a design guideline–walls, windows, doors in image 1 and ceiling in image 2. Image 3 is the concept showing the levels, lighting and walkways.

cgi visual 1c

cgi ceiling labeled

concept cgi final

Concepts are to 1:1.85 ratio

 

 

 

Categories: MA Practical Project, MA project, Post Production, sketchbook and visual diary, The production designer and art department | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Practicalities of Green Screen 1

I thought it was important to understand the green screen process, particularly within the sound stage environment as I am designing a set that incorporates green screen elements. I looked at various videos and books and came up with a few pointers in terms of what is needed.

The position of the green screen:– This needs to be at least 8 ft from the actor being filmed (though video suggests 10-15 ft)

Lighting:- Both the screen and the actor have to be lit. The best results can be achieved by using a three-point lighting set up to lit the screen as evenly as possible.

Green Screen:- Needs to be hung in such a way that there are no or few creases or shadows that will make the post-production process more difficult. Fabric needs to be non reflective.

Footage:- Two sets of film footage is needed, one of the actor in front of the green screen and one that is replacement footage such as a matte painting or scene.

(BYRNE, B., 2009)

A good colour for a green screen is anti-reflective Rosco chroma key green, this provides the cleanest green screen  (info at http://greenerystudios.com/green-screen-studio/)

 

greenscreen_graphic

Image available at http://www.innovativethinking-inc.com/greenscreen.html [sourced on 29/06/2014]

 

I also found a video that explains some of the processes.

My problem is that the area that needs to be green screened is the ceiling. I found some studio images showing part of the ceiling screened but there needs to be lighting rigs and the image shows this.

green_screen_sm

Image available at http://www.halastudios.com/studio/studio.html [sourced on 29/06/2014]

The question is, is there a way to green screen a ceiling and allow lighting or does the scene need to be pieced together filming several scenes with more than one green screen shot? Or, does the screen even need to extend that far?

This studio image below  shows a green screen ceiling with lighting rigs in front of the screen. I need to research this further in terms of the practicalities and find out how easy it is to film this and whether the lighting rigs would just be digitally painted out like the scaffolding support was in Inception.

l

Image available at http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/greenery-studios-burbank [sourced on 29/06/2014]

 

References:- BYRNE, Bill. The Visual Effects Arsenal. Oxford: Focal Press, 2009.

Visual References:-

http://greenerystudios.com/green-screen-studio [sourced on 29/06/2014]

http://www.innovativethinking-inc.com/greenscreen.html [sourced on 29/06/2014]

http://www.halastudios.com/studio/studio.html [sourced on 29/06/2014]

http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/greenery-studios-burbank [sourced on 29/06/2014]

 

You Tube :-

 

 

Categories: MA Practical Project, MA project, Post Production, The production designer and art department | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Production Designer and the Visual Effects Process

Looking at post-production and visual effects companies I can start to piece together some of the answers to questions about the production designers role in terms of  CGI, visual effects and what happens later on at post production. From reading a few articles and speaking with Framestore  it seems that visual effects are very much a part of the pre-production/production phase with plenty of collaboration between the VFX houses, director and production designer. But what does the production designer need to know in terms of the skills and knowledge of the VFX process?

This answer is more elusive. I discussed the possibility of the production designer gaining further skills for future film making in case study 1. Matthew Gant replied that he thought it to be unlikely that the production designer would train to have other skills as the job entailed so much already. There wouldn’t be time for the PD to sit all day at the computer doing the work of the VFX artist .

That said, does the production designer need to have knowledge or an overview of the process, even if they don’t know how to produce it themselves?

There are a handful of designers than I have come across  that have appeared to integrate with the  effects/CGI process.

Alex Mcdowell – Minority Report

Guy Hendrix Dyas – Inception

Both films were groundbreaking in different ways and these will feature as my next case study/studies

 

I will look at these designers and films in regards to the production designer/VFX/post production design process in particular what they needed to know about the VFX department when designing sets, whether there are limitations to consider? Also other aspects such as changes in the film-making process…

“From 1999-2001 he worked with Steven Spielberg to design and develop a world for the film Minority Report, prior to a completed script. The process that evolved changed the nature of his film design process from analogue to digital, and profoundly affected the nature of all digital production, pushing a radical shift towards a non-linear workflow. Since then his work has built on the dynamic relationship between creativity and emergent technologies.”  (http://www.xmedialab.com/mentor/alex-mcdowell)

 

I looked at Alex McDowell early on in my project and he is one of the designers that seems to be at the forefront of the non-linear way that film making is evolving.

I will also look at the company  5D Institute: The future of narrative media that Alex McDowell is a part of that thinks of story telling as a collaborative process with no boundaries.

Both Minority Report and Inception were considered groundbreaking in terms of the design processes, Minority Report for how it opened up the non-linear design approach and Inception because it was designed/produced completely in-house at Double Negative  and pushed the boundaries of photo-realistic daylight architecture.

“Aside from the development of the Limbo City shoreline procedural layout system, a key area of CG R&D was in lighting and rendering. But Inception required an even higher level of realism than Dneg has achieved with Gotham City or the magical worlds of Harry Potter. That’s because all the environments are seen in broad daylight. Lead by CG Supervisor Philippe Leprince, the Dneg team raised the bar for photorealistic architectural lighting, and recent advances in fluid dynamics and rigid body animation were brought together in the scenes of destruction and disintegrating reality.”  (DESOWITZ, B., 2010)

Inception also worked in a similar way to Minority Report as  a non-linear creative approach.

“There was no formal postvis period: instead postvis became a continual part of shot development, running pretty much all the way up to final delivery in May” (DESOWITZ, B., 2010)

So films such as Inception do seem to have the approach that was initiated by Minority Report. It works for the multi skill/lateral thinking collaboration between all design departments from pre-vis concept to post production VFX etc.

 

Alongside looking at these examples I will integrate the design process of my project as I need to know what has to be done in order to produce my sets and location alterations. World design is a term that is being used more and more as film making becomes more organic. It is a term that I came across initially through my love of gaming and creative writing. I will also look  at world building as an approach.

 

References:-

http://www.xmedialab.com/mentor/alex-mcdowell ONLINE [sourced on 6/6/14]

DESOWITZ, B., (2010) VFX from Inception. Available at: http://www.awn.com/vfxworld/vfx-inception ONLINE [sourced on 6/6/14]

 

Other sources of interest:-

http://5dinstitute.org/people/alex-mcdowell

Categories: Case Studies, MA project, Post Production, The production designer and art department | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

CGI, Post Production and Production Design

It’s clear from reading articles over the last few weeks that there is a shift in not only how films look but how they are being made. Traditionally a film goes into the pre-production stage, is designed, filmed and then any edits or visual effects are done in the later stage of post production. Now what seems to be happening, certainly with larger companies is that filmmakers/directors are approaching the post production/VFX companies directly to make their films. Inception was one of those films that was done entirely in-house. AWN’s (Animation World Network) Bill Desowitz spoke about the new trend of VFX companies handling films in their entirety.

This allows for better cooperation between artists and a broad scale understanding of the film’s intentions rather than parceling off the film into pieces to be assigned to different studios, which creates a disjointed artistic experience.  ” (DESOWITZ, B. (Cited 2011) Boogiestudion.com.2011 [Online])

Some companies such as Framestore have a pre-viz department as well as post production services allowing for films to be designed in-house, so for science fiction and fantasy films it could be something that happens more and more in the future. It would be interesting to see if smaller companies would have the capabilities to do the same, or whether this is purely the arena of companies like Framestore, Method Studios or Double Negative.

I approached Framestore to ask them whether the production designer is part of this pre-viz stage and they confirmed that their designers  are involved with the design process from early on, collaborating with the production designer.  They also directed me to the art department site where many of the concept images are produced. However, that said, it does not always follow that they do the VFX for that film later on.  An example of this is World War Z in which they produced only concepts. From left to right World War Z and 47 Ronin  where they designed many aspects from pre-viz to VFX/post production The images are concept art, environments and creature design and VFX.

wwz6  47Ronin_Wip_Ako_L  47Ronin_Wip_Dragon_L

images available at http://www.framestore.com/work/world-war-z   and   http://www.framestore.com/work/47-ronin [sourced on 11/05/2014]

 

“Framestore astounded me with their combination of technical skill and artistry in creating the world of 47 Ronin. From conception at its art department right through to execution by their incredibly talented VFX team, they created creatures, FX and environments that are truly unique. Thanks Guys!” 47 Ronin director, Carl Rinsch.  http://www.framestore.com/work/47-ronin [online – sourced on 11/05/2014]

Most films are still packaged off to several companies all over the world. But these are large budget films so have the money to employ production designers, art directors etc to oversee the process.

I looked at Inception  and found that the pre-production/art department and VFX both worked on concepts with the production designer and the art department team researching architecture to provide a solid visual foundation. I will look at Inception and Double Negative in the next VFX post in more detail.

43416-vfx-inception

image from http://www.awn.com/print/vfxworld/vfx-inception%5Bsourced on 13/05/14]

 

What is evident is that companies such as Double Negative and Framestore work with production designers at an early pre-viz stage, research, concepts, VFX planning etc whether they are all in-house or packaged off to various VFX studios.

This is a brief breakdown of some of the companies and their services:-

Double Negative :- Concept/pre-viz/VFX designing Inception in-house, bringing in other designers.

Framestore:- Art/Department/Concepts/Pre-vis/VFX/Design etc working on films such as 47 Ronin and Gravity

Method Studios:- Art Department/Concepts/Colour/Design/VFX working on films such as Divergent and Cloud Atlas

Scanline VFX :- High end VFX/ Colour/Titles and mainly post production, on films like Divergent and 300

Sony Imageworks :- VFX/Animation/3D, film such as Spiderman and Godzilla

Boogie Studios:-VFX/Sound/3D/colour/post production

 

References:-

Blog article:-

DESOWITZ, B., (cited 2011) Oscar nominated Inception helps to develop a trend in the VFX industry. Available at:-  http://www.boogiestudio.com/blog/2011/01/26/a-look-at-vfx-oscar-nominated-inceptions-formula-for-success/?lang=en [sourced on 22/04/2014]

Images and website information:-

http://www.framestore.com/work/world-war-z [online- sourced on 11/05/2014]

http://www.framestore.com/work/47-ronin%5Bonline- sourced on 11/05/2014]

47 Ronin director, Carl Rinsch. http://www.framestore.com/work/47-ronin [online- sourced on 11/05/2014]

image from http://www.awn.com/print/vfxworld/vfx-inception%5Bsourced on 13/05/14]

Double Negative website:- http://www.dneg.com

Framestore :- http://www.framestore.com/work

 

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Post Production Research

I have broken down the elements of the next phase of research for post production into a diagram. This is to give me a plan of how to approach such a vast and constantly evolving part of modern-day film making. Before completing the set design and location element of my project I need to really understand what is happening now and how it affects science fiction film design. There are other considerations including the budget of the film and the size of the post production company involved too.

post production

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Post Production and CGI

To work towards my final designs and to have a clearer idea of what is done by the Production Designer  I have to look at what happens in the post-production stage. Post production can be in the form of anything from sound and editing through to visual effects and CGI. For the purpose of my project question I will concentrate on visual design that is closely linked to the role of the production designer and see how they are related and whether they are only involved in the later stages of design or if there is a crossover?

I recently started following some of the post production companies on the internet as I found that many of the books I was reading contained plenty of information about special effects over the last few years but little about what’s happening now. It seems that this is one of the areas of the industry that is constantly evolving and adapting new software, so inevitably books are not up to date with some of the information. Instead I am researching the companies that do the work, various articles about technological advancements and looking at the films that are produced.

Two companies that do post production design work are Framestore and Boogie Studio.

wwz-hero-thumb_0

Framestore image from World War Z found at http://www.framestore.com/work/world-war-z [sourced on 24/04/14]

Boogie Studio had a great visual on their blog site that represented the post production stage of film making and how all the parts i.e. sound, editing, VFX, etc fit together.

What-is-Post-Production-The-Three-Stages-of-Post

Image from http://www.boogiestudio.com/blog/2011/07/13/what-is-post-production-the-three-stages-of-post/?lang=en [sourced on 22/4/2014]

The three stages of post production are:-

– Editing
– Audio Post (includes dialogue, music, sound effects)
– VfX (Visual Effects)

The effects side of the process includes:-

Colour Timing:- Photo chemical process of colour correction.

Visual Effects (VFX)
Although most visual effects work is completed during post-production, it usually must be carefully planned and choreographed in pre-production and production. Visual effects are designed and edited in Post-Production, with the use of graphic design, modeling, animation and similar software. A visual effects supervisor is usually involved with the production from an early stage to work closely with production and the film’s director to achieve the desired effects.” (MORIN, D.A., 2011)

The VFX team also do.

Matte painting:- painting usually of a location which is then combined with live action, sets or models to produce a composite. Traditionally this was painted onto large glass sheets, today it’s done digitally on a computer.
Digital Animation
Digital Effects
Color Correction/or grading:- This is an alteration or enhancement done by either a chemical, electronic or digital process. See Colour Timing.

Composite:- An image made up of a combination of two or more elements that are filmed at different times or places. This can be done by a in-camera technique or today using digital software

 CGI:- 2D and 3D images produced entirely by computer software

The visual team at Boogie Studios produce:-

Pre-production: 3D pre-visualization
Pre-production: Stereoscopic consultation
Pre-production: Script & VFX Breakdown
Live action production & special shoot: Onset visual effects supervision
Live action production, 3D production & Post-Production: 3D Stereography
3D animation production: 3D model pack, FX & 3D animation production
Editing & Finishing: Online Smoke editing & conform
Editing & Finishing: Color grading suite
Effects & Compositing: Motion design for film and television productions
Effects & Compositing: Nuke Compositing

References:-

Visuals and information:-

MORIN D.A.(2011) What is Post Production? The Third Stage of Production. [Online] Available at http://www.boogiestudio.com/blog/2011/07/13/what-is-post-production-the-three-stages-of-post/?lang=en%5Bsourced on 22/4/2014]

Framestore website image from World War Z found at http://www.framestore.com/work/world-war-z [sourced on 24/04/14]

RICKITT, R., (2000) Special Effects: The history and technique. London: Virgin Publishing Ltd.

Other sources of information and reading:-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_grading [sourced on 24/4/14]

http://www.framestore.com/ [sourced on 24/4/14]

http://framestoredigital.com [sourced on 24/4/14]

http://www.boogiestudio.com [sourced on 22/4/14]

 

 

 

 

Categories: General research, Post Production | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Project development: Pre production research

This week I’m working between the practical side of my project and the theoretical research that will back up and influence my design decisions. The main focuses are pre-production, sound stages, location dressing, concepts and the changing role of the production designer. My practical work involves designing the main sound stage build; so completing a model, technical drawings, concept visuals, researching materials and then looking at how CGI is used in the sound stage build. Along side the practical elements I’m also having 2 days work shadowing a production designer; one day on set watching the shooting process and one day observing set dressing. These observations will form part of the production designer case study 1.

Firstly I wanted to look at what exactly is meant by some of the processes of pre-production:-

Pre-production

A span of time in which the production designer conceptualizes the film or TV show researching and producing drawings/concepts, technical drawings for the build. This usually lasts between two and three months on average. It involves everything that needs to be done before filming starts including what parts of the design will be set builds? What will be a location dress? How it will be filmed? (BARNWELL, J. 2004) Also included in this stage is the storyboarding in which each shot is thought through, with ideas coming from the director, production designer and director of photography. More often than not the storyboard is drawn up by a storyboard artist, but on low-budget films the production designer will take on this role (LOBRUTTO, V. 2002).

To complete my project I need to look at these elements in more detail over the next month and how they relate to my own designs:-

Concept art/visuals

Sound stages and builds

Set dressing

Technical drawings/plans/models

Location scouting

Storyboarding

How all these relate to production and post production ( CGI and effects in particular)

 

References:-

BARNWELL, J., 2004. Production Design: Architects of the screen. New York: Wallflower

LOBRUTTO, V., 2002. The Filmmakers Guide to Production design. New York: Allworth Press

Categories: MA Practical Project, MA project, The production designer and art department | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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