Posts tagged Real By Fake
Ben Looram of Chapeau Studios, Andy Brown of Jogger, and Marc Côté of Real By Fake in postPerspective's VFX Roundtable

postPerspective has shared their post-SIGGRAPH Visual Effect Roundtable. They asked professionals from across the VFX industry questions about the upcoming technologies that will impact their field, from realtime raytracing to using game engines in VFX production. Three Hypesters, Ben Looram of Chapeau Studios, Andy Brown of Jogger, and Marc Côté of Real By Fake, were among the professionals who participated. Here are just a few of their highlights from the Roundtable:

Ben Looram of Chapeau Studios

Ben Looram of Chapeau Studios

Ben Looram:

postPerspective: Are game engines affecting how you work, or how you will work in the future?

Ben Looram: Yes, rendering on device and all the subtle shifts in video fidelity shifted our attention toward game engine technology a couple years ago. As soon as the game engines start to look less canned and have accurate depth of field and parallax, we’ll start to integrate more of those tools into our workflow.
Right now we have a handful of projects in the forecast where we will be using realtime game engine outputs as backgrounds on set instead of shooting greenscreen.

 

 

Andy Brown:

postPerspective: The Uncanny Valley. Where are we now?

Andy Brown:It always used to be “Don’t believe anything you read.” Now it’s, “Don’t believe anything you see.” I used to struggle to see the point of an artificial human, except for resurrecting dead actors, but now I realize the ultimate aim is suppression of the human race and the destruction of democracy by multimillionaire despots and their robot underlings.

Andy Brown of Jogger.

Andy Brown of Jogger.

 

 
Marc Côté

Marc Côté

Marc Côté:

postPerspective: So what about things like AI/ML or AR/VR? Have those things changed anything in the way movies and TV shows are being made?

Marc Côté: My feeling right now is that we are getting into an era where I don’t think you’ll have enough visual effects companies to cover the demand.
Every show has visual effects. It can be a complete character, like a Transformer, or a movie from the Marvel Universe where the entire film is CG. Or it can be the huge number of invisible effects that are starting to appear in virtually every show. You need capacity to get all this done.
AI can help minimize repetition so artists can work more on the art and what is being created. This will accelerate and give us the capacity to respond to what’s being demanded of us. They want a faster cheaper product, and they want the quality to be as high as a movie.

Director Vallée Melds Invisible VFX with Epic Led Zeppelin Tracks to Create the Haunting Atmosphere of HBO’s "Sharp Objects"

Sharp Objects, the HBO miniseries that just landed 8 Emmy nominations, is widely respected as a psychological thriller masterpiece. Director Jean-Marc Vallée’s and the creative team on Sharp Objects faced a challenge as old as filmmaking: portraying the inner life of a character to audiences. 

“It’s all about Camille’s perspective,” says Vallée about Amy Adams’ powerful character Camille Preaker and her past and present world. “I want the audience to see what she sees, see what she remembers, even see what Camille dreams.”   

“The kind of stories I like to tell are character-driven, emotional, and in order to tell these stories, my creative collaborators and I developed through the years a different way of working and thinking, and a different method of visual development”. 

Vallée starts by planning shots that favor the main character’s perspective. “There are no establishing shots; we see everything they see. It’s shot hand-held with only one camera, using natural lighting only, it’s designing shots on the spot based on what the actors do, it’s allowing them to use the space and to go where ever they want to, it’s being able to shoot in 360 degrees if needed be, it’s shooting non-stop for 30 to 40 minutes, different shots, different takes.  After shooting, it’s using editing and visual effects to push the perspective management even further.

An important component of the EditAvance process is combining the performances from multiple takes into a single new take. Image courtesy HBO.

An important component of the EditAvance process is combining the performances from multiple takes into a single new take. Image courtesy HBO.

Vallée developed this approach with his team of editors (Maxime Lahaie-Denis, Véronique Barbe, Justin Lachance, Dominique Champagne, David Berman, and Émile Vallée) along with the visual and post artists at REAL by FAKE led by Marc Côté. “With Marc and his team,” he says, “we can test ideas rapidly, keeping what works, discarding what doesn’t. Nothing is impossible.”

Marc Côté even coined a name for what we did on the show : ‘EditAvance.’ ‘Edit’ because it all comes together during the editing process, not as a separate post process. And ‘Avance’ which is simply French for ‘advance.’’

One of the major areas of collaboration between Vallée and Côté on the show occurs in scenes in Camille’s iconic family home. Much of Camille’s story centers around what happened there during her childhood. 

But reality does not always cooperate.

The location team found a great house in Northern California. “It was beautiful, and so isolated. It was so remote it had this Alfred Hitchcock feel: You can scream but nobody can hear you. But we didn’t have enough time and budget to stay on location through the entire show.

“So we built the house interior on a stage with a 360-degree translight (a large illuminated film backdrop). However, there are issues with perspective when using a translight. We then just repositioned things with VFX, so anytime you look out a window, you see a completely accurate visual re-creation of the environment around the house.

The interior of Camille’s childhood home was created on a stage with a 360 degree translight. A drone survey and image may were done to create an accurate representation of the outside. The translight was then replaced with actual elements, keeping the proper perspective. Image courtesy HBO.

The interior of Camille’s childhood home was created on a stage with a 360 degree translight. A drone survey and image may were done to create an accurate representation of the outside. The translight was then replaced with actual elements, keeping the proper perspective. Image courtesy HBO.

This is just one example of the EditAvance approach used in hundreds of shots in the series. “By the end of the show, between the shots of the house, augmenting the scars on Camille’s body and the other assorted clean-ups, replacements and greenscreen shots, there were over 2,300 visual effects shots in the show.”

The other key component of the EditAvance process is music. For SHARP OBJECTS, like for all of his previous films, Vallée didn’t choose a traditional composed score but source material, songs that the characters play. “In the real world, we live our lives surrounded by music. Same with these characters, including Camille.”

In the show, Camille and major characters have unique “playlists.” Vallée shapes the sound atmosphere around the playlists by tweaking and repurposing the music’s themes, durations, volume, presence, and distance. Says the director, “I knew I wanted Led Zeppelin to be the sound of the show. That defines a character.  Or two.  Alice and Camille.

To realize his music-centric vision for telling Camille’s story, Vallée’s team used classic invisible visual effects and post-production techniques such as speed ramps, sound and picture overlays, extraction and repositioning, morphs, split screens, digital extensions of sets and locations. These techniques helped Vallée match each character’s visual story to their musical story. 

Music is a crucial element of EditAvance. The process matches the visual rhythm of the scene to the music- not the other way around. Image courtesy HBO.

Music is a crucial element of EditAvance. The process matches the visual rhythm of the scene to the music- not the other way around. Image courtesy HBO.

“I’m no musician, but it seems to me that the process is a lot like making music. It’s like creating a score with pieces of songs, and with spaces in the right spots where silence can breathe. As I work with the editors, visual effects artists and sound designers, it gets more and more precise. Once we find the scenes, one at a time, once we find the right pacing, and the quality of emotion of each of them, we move on to find the right transition between them, the right music cue in and cue out.”

Is this “EditAvance” approach the next wave for producing prestige streaming series? 

Perhaps it’s too early to say. One thing’s for certain, however, it’s an approach that aims for truth in the performances and puts the story and their characters first.  So far, the results speak for themselves.

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