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July 2014

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Page 16 of 51 15 POST JULY 2014 DIRECTOR'S CHAIR truck sequence, and the final two shots of the spaceship assembling. Base did the [climax] scene up to the last two shots. The big ship shot was Prime Fo- cus, but all the pieces moving up, all of those were Base. "Future Deluxe did the phone maps, and Bemo did the 'Echovision,' and they were fantastic. They had never worked on a movie before. They had done a bunch of music videos, and they were so collaborative and really had the chal- lenge of thinking like Echo would think and showing through Echovision how Echo was emoting through visual effects. It was a tall order but each shot was custom built for the emotions we were trying to get." Tell us how sound designer Randy Thom got involved? "I was a huge fan of Randy Thom's and I wrote him a letter. We were a fairly low-budget movie, so the sound budget that we had when we started was tight. I wrote Randy this letter and said, 'I am a huge fan and loved How to Train Your Dragon and all your Zemeckis movie and I'd like to show you a sizzle reel from this movie, because there is so much potential with who this character is and how he beeps and communicates.' He agreed. Once he saw the sizzle reel he said, 'Sure,' and offered to help us out. He created all of these amazing sounds for Echo. He gave him incredible charm and life." The animators used the sound design for reference? "For the Echovision effects. We didn't think we were going to do Echovision until later in the game, so the Echovi- sion animators were able to animate to Randy's sounds, that were originally just off-screen Echo shots." Tel us a about the use of music? "Composer Joe Trapanese — I want to give him a shout out because he was part of an amazing team that breathed so much life into the movie. He was instrumental in working with Randy in making sure the sounds of Echo had a synthesis with [his] creative choices in the film score." HOLLYWOOD — In Relativity's new family film, Earth to Echo, di- rected by Dave Green, four young friends' lives are forever changed when they encounter a small alien, Echo, who's stranded on Earth. The team not only creates an emotional bond with Echo, but also be- comes involved in protecting him, and helping him build a spaceship to take him home. While the film features a number of visual effects throughout, it was LA-based creative boutique Bemo that was responsible for designing more than 100 shots that represent Echo's own unique view, appropriately dubbed "Echovision." The signature look appears throughout the film, and was so well received by fimmakers that it was ultimately incorporated into the end title sequence, as well as much of the promotional branding. According to Brandon Hirzel, CD/founder at Bemo, Green ap- proached him after much of the film was shot, looking for the Bemo team to come up with a special way to show audiences a view through Echo's eyes. "When they were putting the edit together on the film, they were going to use some sort of filter over that footage," says Hirzel. "The more they watched the edit, the more they realized that wasn't going to be enough. They wanted those scenes to bring out some emotion in a visual way. We created a custom look, when audiences see through Echo's eyes, that we called 'Echovsion.'" In order to create that special Echo look, Hirzel says he had to ap- proach the task from the character's perspective and think about the fact that Echo is a robot who is also from another planet. "I wanted to create a look that was technical, but also organic. We wanted it to show that he's from somewhere else, that he can pick up on energy fields and show that he has feelings. I also tried to put myself in that place of what would it be like to see this world for the first time?" The team went to work to create what Hirzel describes as a "tool- kit of Echo's emotions" with an arsenal of VFX tools. "We wanted to incorporate some 3D animation, some techniques in projection map- ping, where we rebuilt the scenes in CG and took the footage and placed it over our models as a texture. We explored some data mesh techniques, like frame blending, and also explored low-poly effects, where it has more of a technical look. Then we did quite a bit of 2D animation with After Effects. We used Illustrator to kind of sketch out the technical aspects of what it looks like through Echo's eyes and all the measurements and things he comes up with. So, that's all original art that we made and then put it in motion with After Effects and Cinema 4D, Illustrator, Photoshop, Maya and more." Hirzel says that slowly, Echovision became a key element of the film. "Once that look was established, it became almost viral," he explains. "They started adding more Echovision shots. They wanted to see the look of Echovision in one of the posters, and they even wanted to see that carry over to the end titles. The thought process was, it was almost as if Echo is there with you." — BY LINDA ROMANELLO BEMO ARTISTS CREATE ECHO'S VISION Shade, Prime Focus, Bemo and Base FX all contributed visual effects services to the film.

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