Jay Redd Talks Men in Black 3 and Looney Tunes 3-D
DS: Let’s jump now into Men in Black 3. Tell us, what were your main responsibilities on the film? What was the size and scope of the effort, the number of shots? Give us a bit of the low down.
JR: I joined the MiB3 movie in the fall of 2010. I co-supervised the movie with Ken Ralston. He gave me a call in late summer, asked me what I was up to. I asked him what he was up to, and he said, “Men in Black 3,” and that he could use my help on the picture, shooting in New York, and seeing it through to post-production. I left Reel FX to go back to Imageworks to do that show. He told me it was going to be big, and the script was still being worked on, and that we’d be shooting most of the movie in New York, around Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, locations all over the place. Joining in the fall, I went to New York right away and started working with Barry Sonnenfeld, the director, on pre-production, previs, planning, and script breakdown. At the time, it was six or seven hundred shots, and, by the end, I think we ballooned into 1200.
One of the big challenges of the film is that the last Men in Black movie came out 11 or 12 years previous. Even though technology has changed a lot we needed to stay true to the first two films and work within the Barry Sonnenfeld’s Men in Black universe.
DS: What were some of the more challenging shots? Was there anything in particular that you struggled with, or things that posed more of a challenge than others?
JR: The interesting thing about a Men in Black movie, especially Men in Black 3, is the wide diversity of shots and environments that need to be created. It’s not just hundreds of shots of aliens. Every shot has a special need, or a special requirement about it.
One of the big, challenging sequences in the film was the “time jump.” That’s Will Smith, at the top of the Chrysler building, jumping off the side of the building and going through a time travel sequence. That’s kind of how it was described in the script, so there’s a lot open to interpretation there. That was one of the things we started doing previs on in early 2010, and it ended up being some of the last material we completed.
What it required was getting on top of the Chrysler building and jumping off. Now, we couldn’t actually put cameras on the side of the Chrysler building. We wanted to control the lighting, and the textures of the walls, and color and everything. So right away it was, “We need to create a virtual New York.” A big challenge is creating a New York that isn’t necessarily the “real” New York. When you look around the Chrysler building, some of the buildings aren’t that interesting from a compositional standpoint. When we knew we had to jump off the building, we wanted to see what kind of texture was going by the camera to create the biggest sense of speed we could. Even though Imageworks has created versions of New York for the Spider-Man films, this was going to look a little different. We were going to be getting all the way down to the ground, moving the camera 360 degrees, in the daylight. There were no night shots, and it really had to hold up from every single angle you can imagine.