… for Visual Effects

Tip #1460: A Look Inside “Tenet’s” Effects

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

In-camera effects are not the norm, but Christopher Nolan prefers them.

Where possible, director Christopher Nolan prefers in-camera effects.

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This article, written by Kevin H. Martin, first appeared in VFXVoice.com. This is a summary.

“Even after reading the script four times, I was still working out the complexities of it,” Tenet Visual Effects Supervisor Andrew Jackson admits. “Tenet was a case of just when you think you’ve gotten things clear in your mind, then you catch yourself and realize, ‘Oh no!’ And so you’ve got to think a bit harder.”

Writer/Producer/Director Christopher Nolan’s return to technothriller territory a la Inception boasts James Bond-sized full-scale set pieces while not stinting on effects magic – though with the focus primarily on in-camera work. Editor Jennifer Lame estimates only 300 VFX shots in the whole picture, while director Nolan says the level of VFX – created at DNEG, which has worked on Nolan’s films since Batman Begins in 2005 – is less than what would be found in most romantic comedies.

Visual Effects Producer Mike Chambers began working with Nolan on Inception. “He’s very tech-savvy with all aspects of production, and sees VFX as just one tool in the toolbox. He has always been happy with DNEG and likes the idea of avoiding multiple vendors unless something unusual comes up. Organizing early on for a Nolan project starts with knowing the ideal is to get as much in-camera as possible, but then to plan alternate routes that can get us to where we need if in-camera approach doesn’t get us all the way.”

“When you break down a script for a Chris Nolan movie, it’s a different process than when you work on any other film,” he continues. “There are aspects that for anybody else, the default solution today would be to go CG, but that’s not necessarily the case with Chris – almost the opposite is true, which I find refreshing and exciting and really gives me and everyone in my crew a sense of challenge. In this day and age, there is so much effects being done as VFX is the go-to mindset, I couldn’t be in a better spot with a more willing boss than Chris when it comes to practicing my craft properly, getting the time to do all these tests and get things right for the camera.”

EXTRA CREDIT

The article includes much more detail, as well as production stills and links.


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1 reply
  1. Brian Galford
    Brian Galford says:

    Hi Larry,
    It is interesting that Nolan likes to do in camera effects whenever possible. But that’s about this article gave me. Everything else is quotes about how great it was to collaborate with so-and-so, and how this director “knows exactly what he wants.” If I hear that quote one more time…
    The article doesn’t give anything away insofar as the actual tricks of the trade. There’s so much of these back slapping congratulatory quotes in American Cinematographer too, although they go into much more detail about what lighting instruments were used and their deployment.

    Reply

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