Tinkering with a Spy Classic
BD: Talk about the flaming owl and how that effect was done.
CK: For the flaming owl shot, again we decided to not over complicate matters and stayed away from digital creature animation and digital effects as much as we could. By having direct influence on how we wanted to approach this shot, we were able to plan this shot into the detail. In the end, we went for shooting every element as a separate element. Filming children or animals is hard enough to begin with, so planning a shot that children and animals was quite some challenge. We decided that the owl, which actually was one of the owls from the Harry Potter movies, was the most unpredictable and we shot the owl pass first, which established timing for the rest of the plate, at least for the time when the owl is on screen. Even this was split up into two passes: one towards camera and one pass away from camera. We then shot plates for smoke elements, the children and Jim Prideaux's plate. And it was an amazing team effort from animal trainer to children and Mark Strong as Prideaux to get the timings right and make this shot to appear as one.
BD: Overall, what tools did you use on this one and what made the experience satisfying and distinctive?
CK: We used our standard tools such as Nuke, Maya and various tracking software in order to complete these shots and probably the largest technical challenge was the fact it was a 4K resolution show, which meant we had to deal with four times the data compared to a regular show, but these days the tools are getting better at handling large amounts of data, so work speed was still bearable.
What made this project particularly satisfying and distinctive? Well, I personally really enjoyed the direct involvement and the on-set experience. Having such short ways of communication to the director and the DoP certainly made it easier for us to get the most out of the shots, references and various plate elements. I personally feel we were able to optimize our work and get the most out of the visual effects budget.
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.