… for Visual Effects

Tip #1484: No One Said Visual Effects Are Easy

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Over 1,300 VFX shots – because the on-set practical effects didn’t work.

DNEG visited the HMS Belfast in London to get a sense of how the Fletcher-class destroyers were actually built and applied that knowledge to the CG versions. The sky was mapped out for the entire duration of the film’s journey across the Atlantic and determined the light source for each shot. (Images courtesy of DNEG. Final image courtesy of Apple)

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“Greyhound,” written by and starring Tom Hanks, is a World War II seafaring adventure of a destroyer escorting a convoy of 37 ships across the North Atlantic.

While there were a lot of practical effects used during the shoot, most of them didn’t work well. This meant they needed to be replaced digitally during post over the course of six months.

“The interiors and a lot of the exterior immediate deck [of the Greyhound] were shot on an actual Fletcher-class destroyer [USS Kidd in Baton Rouge] but it was landlocked,” states VFX Producer Mike Chambers. “There was no motion or background to speak of. The bridge was built on a gimbal to try to help with the motion, but a lot of the practical stuff didn’t work as well as it needed to. That’s why we had to work over all of those shots.”

There were over 1,300 visual effects shots, with the water and exteriors being entirely CG. “One of the hardest parts is the motion of the ocean as well as the camera placement,” Visual Effect Supervisor Nathan McGuinness says.

Balancing readability and believability of what the lighting conditions would be like in the North Atlantic was hard. [Visual Effects house] DNEG had 10 Canon 5D cameras each placed upon an individual tripod which took time-lapse HDRs every 30 seconds to produce a 60K sky. “We put that on the top of the office in London and a team was sent to Brighton Beach to do the same thing because we needed a clean horizon,” explains Visual Effects Supervisor Pete Bebb. “It gave us the exact time, clouds, and light which were then offered to Nathan. He picked specific ones and that gave us an HDR map per scene and time of day.”

VFXVoice has a lengthy article about the entire post process. Here’s the link.


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