A VFX & 3-D Convergence for Hugo
According to Ben Grossmann, Pixomondo's VFX supervisor, "They flew so close to the people that they shot them on treadmills or standing on platforms with multiple cameras and then rotomated them to match their performances. These were fully moving 3D people. For distance, we built a team of Massive agents that were all photographed from the actual extras that were used and dressed on set.
Legato suggests so many shots are more dynamic in 3-D, even a little camera move over Hugo's head. Sitting on the ledge of the clock face, using a little crane shot, which he did as 2nd unit, adjusts the depth to bring you there with him.
Meanwhile, the flying drawings that become animated flip pages and the intense close-ups of the station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Méliès (Ben Kingsley) during his gala speech are extraordinarily immersive.
"You now use space to alter their performance," Legato adds. "In the case of Sasha Baron Cohen, when he bends down and gets in Hugo's face, he gets in our face because he's in our lap. It tells you a different story and places you more in Hugo's position. He's literally invading your space, which is threatening and frightening. Then when we see Georges [who's also up against our face], we read how he feels. It takes us back to the poetry of silence in a way."
Bill Desowitz is former senior editor of AWN and editor of VFXWorld. He has a new blog, Immersed in Movies (www.billdesowitz.com), and is currently writing a book about the evolution of James Bond from Connery to Craig, scheduled for publication next year, which is the 50th anniversary of the franchise.