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Lesbian Vampire Killers: Ascent 142, Rushes Team for Post and VFX

Ascent 142 completed full picture post and Rushes all 250 VFX shots on LESBIAN VAMPIRE KILLERS, the debut feature from Phil Claydon, starring James Corden and Matthew Horne and the first U.K. movie to be shot entirely on RED camera. Both companies were involved in working closely with the director and production team early on in pre production to assist with the new post pipeline required camera data and with planning the vfx.

The basic process for handling data on the film began with the camera department, which recorded data onto Compact Flash cards. These were then copied onto Firewire drives for delivery to Ascent 142. Throughout production, 142 received dailies in the form of raw data from the cameras where the data was converted to 2k DPX Log files.

For Patrick Malone, Director of DI at Ascent 142 which handled full picture post production, one of the great things about RED is that the compression levels are very manageable. RED does, however, pose challenges.

"If you're a film cameraman you will know that a certain exposure of a certain stock will give a particular result," he said. "With RED being a data camera, you have to put the tools in place that allow you to have that foresight on set because you can't apply simple logic and maths to the equation."

Production requested a tape delivery for its editorial team working on Avid. 142 deployed a workflow, starting with the export of Pro-res QuickTimes with file name and time code burn-ins via the REDcine application. These were subsequently played out to HD Cam tape via Final Cut, and supplied to Editorial for Avid Ingest along with ALE files containing all relevant RED metadata.

Once the offline edit was done, EDLs were supplied by editorial and used to create XML files in Final Cut Pro. These were then used to extract the 2k data, from which vfx plates were supplied to Rushes VFX Dept and the final vfx shots were resupplied to 142 conformed in Smoke and DI grade.

The Rushes vfx team were on location during production at Three Mills Studio, working closely with Claydon to develop ideas for the vfx. The vfx included matte paintings for the backgrounds of 2.5 minute prologue, which was shot entirely on green screen, as well as a full CG tongue, CG vampire trails and compositing of prosthetics and special effects. Louise Hussey, Rushes producer, commented, "The great thing we found working with Phil, is that he is so open to ideas and suggestions from us, his main criteria was, as long as it looked great, he was happy. We had a lot of free rein, which is very rare."

Rushes worked with Millennium FX who created all the prosthetics and SFX who were responsible for the 'Goop' rigs that supply the elements for the exploding vampires. The three companies had to work closely together on set, deciding potential vfx approaches for the final 250 vfx shots. Pulling out a particular shot whenever necessary on set was invaluable for supervising vfx. "With 250 shots, having data on hand on set helped manage the vfx process by providing rushes to look at straight away in QuickTime," said Rushes VFX Supervisor Jonathan Privett.

The Rushes team agreed that working on the film was an immensely rewarding experience, driven by the director's enthusiasm and the level of improvisation required. "It was the most fun I've had working on a film in 15 years" Privett remarked.

LESBIAN VAMPIRE KILLERS will be released nationwide in the U.K. on March 20, 2009.