Venturing into the Hereafter
The underwater environment was pivotal as well. Some shots were accomplished with GS tank photography composited into a virtual underwater environment comprised of fully digital debris, buildings, cars, silt, water and water particulate. But one key shot -- spanning more than 300 frames and approximately 13 seconds -- features a fully digital underwater environment complete with a digital De France, floating past camera, unconscious. Visibility was very carefully art directed in these shots, as Scanline worked to combine dirty muddy water mixing with clearer water, darkness mixing with shafts of light, to allow them to see under water while still retaining the murkiness you would expect in a tsunami.
"After taking footage like that and taking stuff into Nuke, Joe Farrell developed 3D environments out of 2D objects into a 2/5D look," Owens continues. "But we explored all kinds of things with Joe and the tricky part was that hereafter had to be takeaway after the [tsunami] sequence because that is what's disturbing to her. The tsunami had to have enough weight and scariness to balance it. And then on top of that, what was tough was not overstating the hereafter for the audience. It took a lot of experimentation to find subtle differences and Joe and I did a lot of different things before finally winding up with what's in the movie.
"I knew it needed a horizon and I knew it needed some perspective of depth and I thought that we could probably get perspective through humanoid figures. You needed some sense of a sky and some sense of a ground plane. And yet you couldn't put anything man made in it so, with that in mind, we borrowed a little bit from 3D sets that we built and stripped them way down and just gave the faintest, ghostly feeling that there some sort of structure out there. And the camera is very fluid with wide angle lenses mixed with a shorter perspective when you get closer to a person."
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.