An Adventurous Green Hornet
All of that fight footage was shot with a Phantom camera at 300 or 150 frames-per-second and then laboriously converted into realtime. According to Oehler, CIS' challenge with the 85 shots was to break apart several interacting actors during a sequence, individually re-time them in accordance to the action, re-choreograph and integrate them back into a new scene. Because it was important to Gondry to maintain the performance of the actors and stunt performers, there were no individual plates shot. For CIS, this meant deconstructing the whole shot, rebuilding gaps in the background and in the actors themselves and reconstructing the pieces. In some cases, this entailed creating entirely alternate performances than what was shot.
"In addition, CIS developed shots where Kato's abilities were telescoped and took on a more graphical interpretation, as much at home in a graphic novel as a movie. Specifically, these included echoing techniques, where Kato's abilities affect not only his assailants, but also the environment. One shot has Kato kicking an attacker over a car and the car is pushed off into the background along with the attacker. To prevent the moment from being interpreted literally, the car spreads out like pages beneath the assailant.
Kato Vision depicts another of his skills and shows the POV environment from within Kato's eye as he assesses the fight before him. For this, CIS designed a retinal pathway into his eye so Kato's attackers could be seen as Kato sees them. Again, a stylized avenue was designed where a graphical overlay of Kato's eye tracks to the objects of danger and maps them in red. CIS built a stylized but dynamic eyeball overlay that lends a graphic interpretation to the processes in Kato's mind, and fired bright red bolts from behind camera onto the objects.
But it took a lot of trial and error to figure out how to visualize what Gondry wanted. "None of us really knew how we were going to get there, and I don't think he knew how we were going to get there either," Dixon concludes. "He has a way of finding things and it wasn't a straight path. But in the end, I believe we came pretty close to achieving what he was imagining. "
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.