Jennifer's Body: Jaw Dropping VFX
But as they started testing, it became clear that it would take too long for Megan to get in and out of the appliance, so they had to come up with an alternate plan. "We hired a photo double and every day (for about 10 days) she would sit in a chair with this full appliance on her and we would shoot this jaw, and then all Megan would have to do is the dentures. So when it came time to shoot any of these jaw moments, Megan would act out in rehearsal how she was going to attack her victim and we'd fine tune that blocking so it was relatively locked. And the camera would be rehearsing through that as well. And it would roll and she would put her dentures in, and they would really distort her face, which was a nice side effect. And we'd put some contacts in as well. And then she would go through the exact same motions as normal Jennifer. But then I would shoot all the key poses that existed in whatever moves the digital double was doing, so that we had as much of that appliance in that lighting condition that we could get. KNB also created a hairless but high detailed head of the stage five Jennifer that had an articulating jaw.
"I spent a lot of my time shooting that because we had ultimate control over how the light was hitting the head and we'd rotate its reach. And then I would step in and shoot HDRI and clean plates, so at the end of the day, we had all these passes and depending on the shot and moment, we would use some, perhaps all, of the passes that worked. This really helped in post because the tone of this film really became the main focus. From a marketing point of view, from all the test screenings they did, there was a lot of work figuring out how to make this a scary film as well as a funny film."
This so-called jaw shot became a pivotal point, because for four months of the post, the filmmakers thought the film was getting too scary so MPC pulled back on the jaw and then they thought it wasn't scary enough, so they pushed back and this jaw went back and forth quite a bit to help navigate where they wanted the tone on any given day. And so having all those different poses helped MPC in fine tuning and controlling that transition, which Nordby says was a blessing because that changed dramatically throughout post.
"She then goes through these jaw shots and at the end of the day the majority of the work would be in grabbing all these elements, pasting them back onto her face, projecting and doing some roto anim to grab her face at whatever moment we had to do the transformation and we wanted the eyes to maintain some sort of the Megan Fox allure, which was incredibly difficult because as soon as you warped her face in any direction, the shine kind of came off it. So what we ended up doing was that anything below her nose, we were allowed to have full reign to make as horrific as we needed to, and then we above her nose, we could manipulate it somewhat with warps and color correction in her eye sockets. So even at her worst, she had some of that sexiness throughout."
MPC uses a basic version of Maya with its own add-ons. For compositing, they were a Shake house at the time but are moving toward Nuke. Considering the small budget and vfx demands, they relied more on skilled artists to think through shots rather than a brute force approach. The amount of R&D that went into the jaw shot, according to Nordby, was confined to basic projection and lot of 2D trickery on top to blend in with her actual face.