Post Magazine

March 2013

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visual effects Oz The Great and Powerful C ULVER CITY — Sony Pictures Imageworks contributed 1,100 shots to the new Disney film Oz The Great and Powerful, which was shot natively in 3D. Director Sam Raimi called on the Imageworks ( team to help achieve his stylized vision of the Land of Oz and its magical inhabitants. Shot using Red Epic cameras, the film centers around Oscar Diggs, a magician from Kansas (James Franco), who is transported to Oz, where he encounters three witches — Theodora (Mika Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz), and Glinda (Michelle Williams) — and and smaller sets, and the larger sets were more stable, like Glinda's courtyard and the canvas circus stage. What drove the stage layout and rotation was the stunt work. I worked with Scott Rogers, who was the stunt coordinator on Spider-Man 3. He drives all the wire work with high-speed winches and computer control. It's almost like motion control for the actor. He said we did more stunt work on Oz than on Spider-Man 3!" POST: How important was previs for Oz? STOKDYK: "It was absolutely driven by previs and tech-vis. At the same time we were flying the actors, we are flying the cameras as Imageworks' pipeline is based around Maya, but they use Katana, Houdini and Nuke as well. realizes this seemingly perfect world is not perfect at all. He also meets the tiny China Girl (voiced by Joey King) and Finley (Zach Braff), the flying monkey. Here, the film's VFX supervisor Scott Stokdyk (Oscar-winner, Spider-Man 2) talks about working with Sam Raimi as well as the production process, which included creating the digital backgrounds and characters. POST: For a VFX-heavy film like Oz the Great and Powerful, is it easier to describe what isn't a visual effect? SCOTT STOKDYK: "We started thinking about that question very early on: 'What can we get in-camera and what do we not have to do as a visual effect?'We decided to have everything shot on sound soundstages, but not in a style like Alice in Wonderland, where it was just actors over a sea of greenscreen. Alice had two stages in Culver City, where as Oz had seven or eight large stages in Detroit. We filled them wall to wall with as many real sets as we could." POST: How were the different stages set up? STOKDYK: "It was incredibly complicated how they switched around. There were larger well. A perfect example for previs is this bubble boy we have. The idea is that we wanted to fly the real actors and not always have them be CG. How can we do that? If in the previs they are flying at 100 miles per hour and travelling 500 feet, they won't fit on the stage. We have to back out the camera relative to them and figure it out and how to cheat it. The Third Floor did previs and the post-vis." POST: You shot in stereo? STOKDYK: "I would say 99 percent of the time we went with our standard rig, which was a 3D Element Technica Atom rig carrying two Red Epics. It was a mirror set-up and we had an incredible about of luck with it." POST: On-set, was production able to see how the elements would come together? STOKDYK: "We used Joe Lewis' EncodaCam system for virtual background replacement. I have really liked working with Joe Lewis and his team over the years. His system goes back to the iRobot days, and it's a robust, well-established, production-ready system." POST: There are a number of CG characters in the film? STOKDYK: "We have two main characters: the China Girl and the talking monkey, and we treated them slightly differently. For China Girl, on-set we had a marionette that was 18-inches tall. Phillip Huber, the master marionette artist, built his own version of China Girl. So we would have James Franco talking to the marionette. We'd have great lighting reference and interaction with James. We would also have a rough animation guide. We had the actress, Joey King, in a soundproofed booth, off-set, and she had a video monitor where she could see the A camera. There was a camera on her as well, so we were recording that performance and passing that to set." POST: The marionette would ultimately be replaced? STOKDYK: "The Marionette gave us a bunch of things, but ultimately, it had to be replaced. We'd shoot clean plates." POST: Tell us about Finley, the monkey? STOKDYK: "Finley is the monkey who becomes Oz's companion on the journey. He's played by Zach Braff. The modern way for doing a CG character is to have them onset, interacting actor to actor, and then paint out the stand-in actor and replace him with CG. We tried to do that whenever we could. But our CG Finley was three-feet-tall and had wings, could fly around, and was very active. So we couldn't put Zach's face where the monkey's was. "We came up with this thing called 'puppet cam.' We had a puppet with a rod, and a monitor and camera on the end of it. We had Zach in the same booth and he was interacting. We set up a virtual video conference, but it was executed through a monitor on a stick on-set. James had an ear rig, and he could talk to Zach, but was looking at a video monitor on a stick. In the monitor he'd see Zach's head in the booth." POST: How does Sam Raimi approach visual effects? STOKDYK: "Sam definitely comes from this background of pulling out whatever trick it takes to get the job done. He's a very visual director and very interested in getting interesting things on-screen. He doesn't necessarily care about the technique. Because he's so visual, he likes seeing stuff. That's why it's very easy for him to do that on-set. He likes to see as much as he can… but he's not above, in post, replacing things he visualized on-set or re-imagining things. Post0313_009-vfxMLV4finalREAD.indd 9 By MARC LOFTUS SENIOR EDITOR Creating a magical world with live-action and effects. On set, James Franco interacted with a puppet and a monitor on a stick. They were later replaced with the China Girl and Finley, the flying monkey. continued on page 45 Post • March 2013 9 2/28/13 3:48 PM

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