… for Visual Effects

Tip #1402: Notes from “Mank’s” VFX Producer

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

An in-depth look at how effects for this black-and-white movie were created.

The “Mank” movie logo.

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Mank co-producer and VFX Producer Peter Mavromates shares his thoughts on creating the visual effects in Mank. This is a summary of the article, written by Trevor Hogg, that first appeared in VFXVoice.

Visual effects and DI are done in-house. “When we’re doing tests during pre-production,” Mavromates says, “a lot of the time they are shot in the parking lot and we bring the files right into the DI in the building.

That’s also the advantage to having in-house visual effects. I can call David upstairs where our visual effects are and say, ‘I want you to look at these three shots.’ I can give feedback to the artist right there, and maybe the artist can immediately do his note and get him to sign off.

The PIX workflow came in handy when the COVID-19 pandemic caused the production that had finished principal photography on February 22, 2020 to work remotely in mid-March. “David has never wanted to spend the time and money to travel to post-production when he’s on location,” says Mavromates. “Once the flag came down, we were up and running in three days. A lot of times David likes stuff on PIX even if we’re in the same building. We were 80% trained already. It didn’t impact our schedule. We delivered at the beginning of September.”

About half of the job for Mavromates is selecting and dividing the work among the vendors. “When I decide what stays in-house, usually it’s the smaller stuff that I can put through quickly,” he says. “When stuff gets bigger, that’s when I want a facility that has more bandwidth in terms of bodies and rendering. Over time, I have a checklist of things that these vendors have done successfully, so a lot of the choices have become easier over time. David likes to add a lot of lens flaring to his stuff, and I know that I’m going to go to Savage for that because we’ve designed lens flares over so many projects with them. In the birthday scene, there are 65 fireplaces that had flames added. That’s the kind of throughput that Ollin can handle.” The CG animals were produced by ILM, driving sequences by Territory Studio, and Artemple did everything from digital water to a close-up of a neon sign.

In total there were 753 visual effects shots. “A lot of that is ‘body and fender work,’ which encompasses getting rid of actor’s marks, straightening out curtains, removing metallic reflections that were unintended,” remarks Mavromates.

EXTRA CREDIT

The article then details how different effects were created and, espeically, the challenges because the film was shot in black-and-white, which prevented green screen effects from being used. Instead, they relied on LED projection panels.


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