Dusting Off the Tooth Fairy
Meanwhile, Prime Focus delivered 90+ shots, working out of its Vancouver studio with a couple of Winnipeg artists chipping in. Prime Focus did the bulk of the 3D, including fairy wing replacements, digital wings, all the fairy dust effects, which included a variety of fairy dust, and the dust vortices.
Prime Focus also did the digital double shot along with some digital matte painting shots. Most of the work was built around dust effects, simulated using proprietary Prime Focus particle renderer Krakatoa, and lots of simulation. This involved integrating fairy wings to match the practical wings and helping the wings fly and unfold.
"One of the interesting challenges for us on Tooth Fairy was creating the fairy dust effect," explains Chris Harvey, Prime Focus, visual effects supervisor. "The director [Michael Lembeck] was looking for something beautiful and physical yet magical, and it was in finding that balance where the challenge lied. We experimented with hundreds of simulations, varying colors, quantities of sparkle vs. powder and gravity. And, of course, there was the somewhat humorous yet very real concern that we didn't want to end up creating something that would spawn playground injuries caused from kids throwing things in each others' faces! Seriously, though, it was a great project and the whole team had a lot of fun working on it!"
According to Harvey, Prime Focus had hundreds of look-dev sims, throwing dust in people's faces and trying to emulate that and making it look magical. "The filmmakers filmed practical wings in shots where Dwayne Johnson would have practical wings on, and then it would be digital," Harvey continues. "There was a lot of cutting back and forth. Half the shots were digital wings because the wings would pop out or Dwayne would be skating around with them. And the other half of the scenes, the wings would have to fly.
"As far as the dust elements, they all had the same look and feel, but there were few different types of dusts: Amnesia Dust, which makes people forget things, and the Fairy Queen had different dust, and then there was [Johnson's] magic fairy dust. They would move differently, different color schemes, different movements and designs, different level of sparkle vs. powder, how much weight they would have vs. their own magic movement.
"We were given 10 different plates of him in various stages of wardrobe and then we lined those plates up and warped them together and used them to generate particles to stream off of, or stream onto, to generate the costume. His clothes and costumes would dissolve on and off.
"We also did a giant fairy vortex -- that was the portal between our land and the fairy world. We had to create a huge dust vortex. It was big, on a scale of a hockey arena, we opened up the roof and the [Johnson] character disappeared into it. We did lots of concept art and lots of sims. The job was primarily a lot of art directing simulation, which is something we do very well and we have a history of this, going all the way back to creating the kryptonite in Superman Returns, using Krakatoa."
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.