The Wolfman Hits the Ground Running
Rhythm & Hues also did the big fight in Talbot Hall, which was done by stunt actors in tennis shoes with CG replacement of the feet and a few CG claw inserts.
But the biggest challenge was the fire simulation during that sequence. "The Fire sequence was done with clean plates, a fully animated character and CG flames," Spears continues. "The part I'm most happy with is the CG firework. It was completely simulated fire. We used Houdini as a base to run the simulations, and we have proprietary vector toolkit called Felt that we've used quite a bit, and we used that to make the fire more realistic. The results we were getting out of the box were too soft and a bit of a CG fire look to it, but we added a lot more detail when we brought it into Felt."
Double Negative, which worked on 350 shots spread across multiple scenes, was led by Visual Effects Supervisor Mark Michaels. This included the opening and the ending shots of the film, creating the iconic moon that is central to the theme, as well as some hallucination scenes. Much of the work, though, involved creating Talbot Hall. Filmed at Chatsworth House, it required much "disheveling" to create the director's interpretation. A dome was added to the top of the house, this was built as a CG model and the artists shaded and textured the lead on the roof and the surrounding stonework to match in. The dome was added to a number of shots and in a variety of lighting conditions, from daylight to night and even shots of the dome on fire, so the team needed to ensure that everything built was able to cope with the different set-ups. In 2D, led by Compositor, Jim Steel, ivies and vines were added to the front of the house. The vines were animated reacting to the wind and the team animated candle-light inside the house. The skies were replaced using digital matte paintings of moody overcast skies, which were animated in 2D.
The R-rated film contains lots of blood and gore. One gruesome shot occurs where a character is impaled on iron railings, which had been filmed in camera, but a change in camera move, meant that the Dneg team was required to create a CG version of the entire plate and "massage" the performance of the stunt artist's fall to have more weight and impact. The stunt performer was replaced by a digi-double at the head and there was a projection of the stunt performer onto CG geometry for the tail of the shot. All of this was tied together with days of painstaking paint-work and the addition of 2D blood splurts.
"One thing that's missing, which is really sad, is that Double Negative did a beautiful color version of the original glass Universal logo for the title sequence and that dissolves into the moon and you tilt down into the forest," Begg offers. Dneg managed to procure the best scan possible of the original logo and then recreated it in CG for the update, first in black-and-white and then in color. This presented a significant design task to both the 2D and 3D teams.
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.