Dark Shadows Gets Burtonvision
The exterior of Collinwood Manor required considerable augmenting in a large number of shots. Top ups to the house, and extensions of the surrounding area were required for many different angles, at different times of day, in different states of disrepair and in one sequence, fully ablaze. Depending on the requirements of the shot, the missing parts of the Manor were created using either model elements -- sometimes projected onto basic geometry to cheat the angle --matte painted patches, again, projected onto geometry or high-res stills and sometimes a combination of all three.
The Senate was also required to develop a watery ghost effect for the specter of Josette (Bella Heathcote), Barnabas' lover from his previous life. Since Burton didn't want anything magical or ethereal, the Senate applied layers of simple 2D distortions, glows and subtle transparencies onto green screen elements of Josette, to create a more old-fashioned yet pretty ghostly effect. These ghostly elements were then placed on animating cards in 3D space, and comp'd into the various corridors of Collinwood Manor. Shots were enhanced by blending in various lighting passes, adding flickers to chandeliers and glows to walls, also projected onto cards in 3D space.
To make the ghost seem even creepier, the Senate created CG crabs that would crawl over her body when she's initially revealed; and even out of her mouth as she first speaks. Based on real crabs, once modeled, rigged and textured, the creatures were then intricately animated over the body of Josette, which had been tracked and mapped in 3D. Subtle interactions and shadows on her skin and clothing also helped to cement them in place
It's all part of Burtonvision.
Bill Desowitz is former senior editor of AWN and VFXWorld. He's the owner of the Immersed in Movies blog (www.billdesowitz.com), a regular contributor to Thompson on Hollywood at Indiewire and author of James Bond Unmasked (www.jamesbondunmasked.com), which chronicles the 50-year evolution of 007 and features interviews with all six actors.