Tripping Out on Scott Pilgrim
"Edgar and his brother Oscar (the concept designer) explained their vision for the film and showed us a whole host of references from FMV game sequences, old and new Streetfighter, Tekken and the like through to Japanese animation: Naruto, Fooly Cooly, Samurai Jack, Afro Samurai. We reviewed many hours of footage, while they explained in detail how they saw the aesthetic of the film.
"There was a delicate balance to be trodden, because while they wanted the sequences to be stylized they didn't want them to be too stylized: they wanted everything to have a firm basis in reality and photography. They cited Speed Racer as an example of the aesthetic going too far for them.
"Working closely with Edgar, DP Bill [Pope] and Production Designer Marcus [Rowland], we went through every story board to establish how we'd realize each frame: we'd identify which shots we thought would be slow-motion, phantom digital, film, VistaVision or regular spherical; how much set to build, how much set-extension, which characters would be shot in bluescreen or digital. Each frame in SP is a marriage of physical & digital techniques, and we were able to lock down our approaches early on thanks to the extensive storyboarding & test shooting that had already been done."
The first fight sequence with Patel (Satya Bhabha), which was partially worked on as a test, is obviously an attention grabber. When it begins you see Patel burst through the ceiling and the proportions of the room stretch and you have speed lines and on screen graphic sound effects (inspired by the Batman TV series) and the film reaches a new level. It's full of kung fu fighting and manga and Bollywood references.
"Bryan's comics are filled with these onomatopoeic effects and when Patel gets punched and the word 'Krowww' appears on screen, Scott gets flung hundreds of yards across the set and the word 'Whip' appears behind him. Edgar wanted these graphics to feel integrated with the photography, so we'd take graphics directly from the comic book track them into the shots and composite them with the correct depth of field for their position in space, we'd give them a subtle translucency so the lights in the shot would shine through them, they'd have subtle coloration imperfections along their edges, a chromatic aberration just to give them photographic attributes. "
For a change, Toronto gets to represent Toronto, and environments were crucial. "The idea was that the look of the exteriors in the film should be somewhere between a comic book and reality," Churchill suggests. "We took location photography and removed extraneous detail like road signs, electrical wires and a lot of detail from the trees while at the same time 'smoothing' snow detail, the result was a 'simplified' exterior shot that had something of the feel of the comic but with its feet firmly planted in photographic reality, this delicate balance."
This was done by Mr. X of Toronto. "We went along for the ride with the designer and shot stills that precisely matched the angle and composition of the panels in the books," explains Mr. X's Weintraub."From there, we put together a package that showed each of the locations with varying levels of simplification ranging from the photograph all the way to Bryan's cartoony style, and with Edgar's guidance, netted out somewhere in between.