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WATCH: Pixomondo ‘The King of Staten Island’ VFX Breakdown Reel

The studio, led by VFX supervisor Bojan Zoric, delivered 170 shots as the sole visual effects house on the Judd Apatow comedy starring Pete Davidson as a wannabe tattoo artist drifting through a life of little achievement.

Leading design company Pixomondo has just shared with AWN a VFX breakdown reel of their work as the sole visual effects house on Judd Apatow’s comedy, The King of Staten Island, starring SNL star Pete Davidson. The film comes out today on Blu-Ray and DVD, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Led by VFX supervisor Bojan Zoric, Pixomondo Toronto began work in the film’s early stages. Their effort included detailed pre-production planning, on set supervision and a wide range of VFX work that had to be completed according to an extremely condensed schedule. All told, they spent 12 weeks on the film, delivering 170 shots.

According to Zoric, “VFX shots ranged from standard cleanup and monitor replacements to some thoroughly planned smoke and fire enhancements that required pre-production prep, careful on set guidance and many FX and compositing iterations to fulfill the filmmakers needs.”

In a departure from Pixomondo's usual projects, The King of Staten Island was shot entirely on 35mm film, then scanned at 2K. “This meant that aside from standard digital cleanup, our compositing artists had to tackle negative repair, artifacting, light-leaks and stabilization,” Zoric says. “All the work, whether cosmetic tattoo and wound enhancements, or complex FX simulation, fell under the category of invisible effects and had to blend with the overall cinematic style while not drawing attention to itself.”

“We spent a couple of weeks doing on set supervision in a variety of NY locations, which was followed by a collaborative period where our FX and compositing departments were working closely with the filmmakers and the editorial department,” he continues. “This involved designing smoke and fire enhancements, chronologically planning out the firefighting sequence as well as testing approaches to some of the more complicated cleanup work. All the work was done with a small team comprised of 2 FX artists, 10 compositors and 2 VFX editors. Pre-production planning and on set guidance enabled us to finish the work with a smaller team, despite a tight delivery schedule.”

The film’s firefighting sequences proved the most complex and challenging for the Pixomondo team. “Those scenes involved pre-production planning in collaboration with the practical FX department and the DOP,  on set supervision and collaboration with the lighting, stunts and practical FX teams and a detailed and much iterated choreography with regards to location, behavior and progression of smoke and fire,” Zoric explains. “A general design plan was worked out with the filmmakers regarding source and spread of fire and smoke before the shoot began. Once on set, lighting and practical FX departments, under PXO supervision, provided interactive lighting and base smoke for the sections of the building. Using photogrammetry, we created a general model of the building, which was used by the digital FX department to simulate correct behavior of fire and spread of smoke. PXO’s compositing team integrated the rendered elements using a wide range of AOV passes and created a hero treatment shot used as a point of reference for the sequence.  Judd was then provided with multiple iterations for the density of smoke and spread of fire presented within the context of the sequence by our internal VFX editing team.”

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.