A New Moon for Twilight
Both the plot and blood thicken in The Twilight Saga: New Moon, which opened for Summit with $142.8 million last weekend, the best of 2009 and third best ever. While Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) part, Jacob (Taylor Lautner) takes his romantic shot with her, only discover that he's part of a werewolf pack sworn to protect humans from vampires.
New to The Twilight Saga is Susan MacLeod, visual effects producer turned supervisor, who joins director Chris Weitz after collaborating on the Oscar-winning Golden Compass. Not surprisingly, she turned to Prime Focus and Tippett Studio, given their expertise with particles and character animation, respectively, as well as her previous associations with them (Prime Focus President Mike Fink supervised The Golden Compass, and Tippett has worked with her on several movies, including Golden Compass).
"For this movie, I knew [transitioning from visual effects producer to supervisor] could work because of the relationship that Chris and I have," MacLeod suggests. "I was scared at the beginning, as anyone would be the first time that you take on a responsibility that you haven't had before. But I have been around a while, which is a good thing, but, most importantly, the volume of work is not even remotely overwhelming to me, having come from movies that had four times as many shots.
"But the most daunting thing about making this movie really was the schedule. From start to finish for me, it was less than 10 months. To me, it was extraordinarily quick -- but refreshing and rather concerning, too. There are certain things that you can't do faster, no matter how much the studio might want. Initially, they pushed us to deliver a trailer shot early, which I begrudgingly agreed. And then, of course, two months before we were supposed to deliver that trailer shot, they decided that they needed it a month earlier. Personally, I was very unsatisfied with that trailer shot, but I understand that there's a marketing machine that needs to be fed, and it was definitely fringing on the impossible, there."
However, they were turning over vfx shots involving 3D animation and matchmoving before they finished shooting in order to get a pipeline started. "The methodology we came up with for [Edward's] apparitions was isolating Rob on a greenscreen and in some instances we could shoot that in the environment on location and just lock off the camera, and in other situations, though, we needed to shoot wild moves on location, and then pick a select, matchmove that select and then feed that matchmove to a motion control rig. So those were also shots that we were essentially turning over while we were still shooting them because we had to create the matchmoves in order to shoot the greenscreen element. So, it's always fun to do production and post-production at the same time, when the schedule necessitates it."