Method Scares Up New Nightmare
The biggest difficulty was matching the performance so the CG would stick. "We created some custom Nuke tools to warp and lock things into place because his skin was not a rigid object, so we took advantage of Nuke's 3D capabilities to create 3D maps. We could create (and adjust) a roto shape or a matte or a blend mask that would blend from the wound into his actual face."
The other big effect that went through a few design phases was the stretchy wall, in homage to the original. "The challenge there was that the client really wanted to shrink-wrap the wall paper more around him than a normal elastic wall would allow, so it's a fine balance between pushing it further and breaking reality and also making it scary and cool," Faden says. "And in the end, I think it works when you accept it as a dream thing and suspend disbelief. We did a CG animation of Freddy trying to push his way through the wall and we did it in two shots.
First, there's a ripple in the wall to surprise the viewer and then Freddy pops through and starts working his way around the wall and eventually his claws pop through as well. "It was a pretty complex cloth simulation that all came together, which was done in nCloth in Maya," Faden explains. "Then we imported it into Houdini and that involved some post enhancements where we really tried to define Freddy's shapes better and added a lot of wrinkling and additional shaping that the nCloth wasn't giving us the control to do, so Houdini was really good for that."
Method also some fire shots during the origin of Freddy's backstory. He gets blasted in the face with an explosion, so they did a comp, where they shot Haley separately against a greenscreen with an interactive light and had a stuntman take a popper in the face. This was followed by 2D head replacement. After that, Freddy comes running out on fire, which Method shot as a motion control move, adding 2D fire for the head and 3D fire for the arms using Houdini. Practical fire didn't work for sweeping hand motion.
In terms of environments, Method did a tricky sequence where Nancy (Rooney Mara) fights Freddy in a pharmacy while experiencing micro-naps (when the brain involuntarily turns off due to lack of sleep). "The idea was that she'd be going down the aisles of this pharmacy and she'd be flipping in and out of the boiler room where Freddy is," Faden continues. "We had seven or eight motion control set ups where we carefully planned out the action and matched it to the boiler room. Freddy is not actually in the footage when she's fighting in the pharmacy. When we shot the boiler room we had to line up Nancy with herself and then put Freddy where he should be. It took a lot of choreographing with moving cameras and actors and it was pretty complicated."
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.