Post Magazine

September 2014

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 17 of 51 16 POST SEPTEMBER 2014 rime Focus World recently teamed up with director Robert Rodriguez and his Troublemaker Studios on the new fi lm, Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For. The studio served as the exclusive visual eff ects and 3D conversion partner for the fi lm, which is based on Frank Miller's graphic novel. In addition to acting as a service provider, Prime Focus World is also an in- vestor in the feature, dedicating approx- imately $8 million to the project, which cost more than $50 million to produce. The fi lm coincides with PFW's new reve- nue model and made use of its resources in both Vancouver and India. Freelancer Stefen Fangmeier, who spent more than 15 years at ILM, served as VFX supervisor on the fi lm. Here, in an exclusive interview with Post, he details the fi lm's VFX challenges and how they were able to meet Frank Miller and Rob- ert Rodriguez's stylized vision. How did you get involved in this feature? "I was brought in by Prime Focus to consult and bridge between [them] and Robert. I had to supervise all of the work, which included what was going on in India, which was pretty much 80 percent of the work. The challenging work was done by Prime Focus here in Vancouver." This fi lm relies heavily on VFX. "It was a creative challenge and a tech- nical challenge of producing that volume of work, which I think was 2,300 shots for the fi lm, but with opens and every- thing, I think it was well over 2,500 shots. "It's the whole movie. The actors are shot and there are people in the room, and the cars when they get in and out of them, but in general, it was very bare bones in the way it was photographed because Robert said, 'I can make all those choices later on in post.' That is where a lot of the action happens. He really want- ed a virtual set, a primitive set with extras in there, the talent and a greenscreen." Is there anything that's not a VFX shot? "Yeah, maybe a couple of insert shots. The visual eff ect process is heavily graded. We shot on the greenscreen stage, but then heavily graded it to give it the black & white look, and sometimes even spot col- ors — the lips and eyes of certain actors — certain elements were left in color." Those color decisions were made prior to the DI? "When it came to the DI process, there wasn't a whole lot to be done. Probably some balancing." Did having the graphic novel for refer- ence help? "The biggest challenge was really the production design — fi guring out what all those settings and locations would look like, which was really the fun part for me, because it wasn't something I had done. I got to be the production designer to some extent — because we had nothing really. What's the wallpaper look like, or the fl oor? What is the setting? There's a scene with Ava, where she's in the bathtub making a phone call, and we designed the whole bathroom around her — all the rooms actually — with a big fi replace and all those things. It was kinda neat." How much direction did you receive? "There wasn't a lot given to us by Robert or the production designer. We had card- board models and a couple of frames of what they expected to see in a certain section, but in general, it was very much left open to me for what kinds of settings this would take place in. "There was really no storyboarding as far as I can tell. Prime Focus in Vancouver had done a lot of concepting, and they presented it to Robert, but Robert hadn't really said, 'Absolutely, I like this,' or 'I like that.' He was a little bit up in the air on a lot of that. When I came in, I fi rst went for photorealism to prove to him that the quality could be there. I wanted to make a very uniform and high-end quality in terms of the visuals, and we did do some stylization where we went completely for black & white. "There are a few frames here and there that Robert picked and they match the frames from the novel. For 'A Dame To Kill,' we had the novel in-hand and all the scans from each page. He was very specifi c about certain shots he wanted to match exactly from the novel. But in general, we were given a lot of freedom." What is Robert Rodriguez's style? "I think Robert likes to collaborate with people who get it, and he doesn't have to say that much." Was the fi lm shot in stereo or did it undergo a conversion process? "It was shot in 3D stereo. [Robert] had experience shooting the Spy Kids fi lms in stereo, so he wanted to make this and it works really well in stereo because it's so graphic in terms of the black & white layering. The dimensionality of the stereo BY MARC LOFTUS P DIRECTOR ROBERT RODRIGUEZ BRINGS FRANK MILLER'S GRAPHIC NOVEL TO THE BIG SCREEN. SIN CITY 2: A DAME TO KILL FOR Prime Focus's facilities in Vancouver and India both contributed to the fi lm. VISUAL EFFECTS

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Post Magazine - September 2014