VFX Oscar Bakeoff 2011: Staying Alive
For Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Frazer Churchill explained how they were tasked with translating Bryan O' Malley's manga artwork and director Edgar Wright's pop cultural vision into a graphical-looking film. This was apparent in the very stylized fight sequences, all of which were based in a hyper-real, alternate world. Double Negative and Mr. X went through every storyboard to establish how to realize each frame: they'd identify which shots they thought would be slo-mo, 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 became a marriage of physical & digital techniques, and they locked down their approaches early on, thanks to the extensive storyboarding, test shooting and previs that had already been done.
With the penultimate Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Tim Burke explored how they've continued down the path of gritty realism for this road movie outside of Hogwarts for the first time. He said that MPC's opening set piece featured six of Harry's friends shape-shifted to look like the famous wizard to fool the Death Eaters. There was plenty of CG environments, CG digi doubles and a mixture of stunt work and face replacements. For the sake of believability, they used the real performances of each actor to drive the CG Harry and then made the transformations a hybrid of Harry and the real characters. This entailed Daniel Radcliffe playing Harry seven times and using motion control to shoot multiple passes for every single shot with Radcliffe. Burke also described the improvements in both look and performance for Nagini the snake (MPC) and Dobby and Kreacher (Framestore).
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.