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Proof Shares ‘Chupa’ Previs/Postvis Reel

The leading visualization studio handled extensive previs and postvis, enlisting live Maya sessions with director Jonás Cuarón to develop a key chupacabra kidnap sequence that included the film’s most VFX intense scenes, on a mythological creature and teenage boy’s adventure of a lifetime, now streaming on Netflix.

Leading visualization studio, Proof, has shared with AWN their previs/postvis reel from Jonás Cuarón’s latest film, Chupa, now streaming on Netflix.

The Proof team, lead by previs and postvis supervisors Matt Bauer and Jeremiah Forkkio, worked closely with the director, who was using previs for the first time.

Bauer was previs supervisor on the show, partnering with the director, DP Nico Aguilar and VFX supervisor Mitch Drain to plan and prepare for their shoot. This work focused on key sequences involving the Chupa character including the Chupa Kidnapped sequence.  Previs took around 2 ½ months to complete with a team averaging 6 artists, with as many as 8 working at once.

Forkkio was postvis supervisor on the show, focusing on all sequences involving the Chupa character. Postvis lasted around 8 months in all with a team also averaging 6 artists, with as many as 12 working at once.  

In the film, while visiting his family in Mexico, a teenage boy named Alex gains an unlikely companion when he discovers a young chupacabra hiding in his grandpa’s shed. To save the mythical creature, Alex and his cousins must embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

Cuarón (Desierto) directs, with 26th Street Pictures’ Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan and Mark Radcliffe (The Christmas Chronicles) producing.

Check out the reel, then learn more from Bauer and Forkkio about their work on the film:

According to Bauer, “Previs was used to feel out the spaces of their most VFX intense sequence, ‘Chupa Kidnapped.’ Working with the Director and DP, we used a lidar scan of the set as a base, then incorporated the virtual build along with the practical set pieces to ensure on-the-day accuracy.”

With the director new to previs, he worked closely with the previs team in figuring out the sequence. “We decided to team up and do live Maya sessions, which helped him [Cuarón] see the Maya scene more like actors on a stage. Once he felt like he had the foundation of the sequence, we rolled into a more traditional previs pipeline.”

Additionally, since Aguilar knew that they would film in sunlight for most of the shots, previs provided a Maya scene with an accurate path of the sun on each shoot day that allowed picking a shoot schedule that best maximized light angles.

Postvis started shortly after shooting was finished. Forkkio and his team didn’t produce any finished assets; they instead focused on integrating previously created previs assets into the plates. “We refined the performance of Chupa, so the Finals animators would have a good idea of what the performances should look like,” he shares.  “We also spent a lot of time cleaning up plates, like removing crew members or camera equipment that had found its way into the shot.”

Forkkio met with the director 2-3 times a week, for a few hours at a time. “We would watch through the edits together, with our latest shots cut in, and Jonás would give us notes on what Chupa should be doing, and what - if any- cleanup work we would need to do as well,” he notes. “When our team was at its biggest, we were turning over about 20 shots a day for Jonás to react to.  For the most part, VFX didn't start on any shots with Chupa in it until we had a postvis version that the director had approved.  Jonás really didn't want the performance to change too much from postvis to Finals.”

The most challenging part of the postvis, according to Forkkio, was refining the performance of Chupa. “Chupa is in at least 75% of the movie, so it was critical that we hit the right emotional beats with him,” he concludes. “He needed to feel like a charming pet, but also very intelligent, so it was at times a difficult balance to strike, but Jonás had a clear vision, which made the whole process go very smoothly.”

Dan Sarto's picture

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