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December 2011

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fine, but I'm pretty sure we can go bigger — we're live, so let's see what it looks like.' Over the course of the show, as we did test stereo balances and edits, and people got more comfortable with 3D, we kept making it big- ger." Scorsese himself told Portelli, "Don't skimp on the pate!" as he urged him to "crank up the stereo," Grossmann reports. Nevertheless, Grossmann admits to being nervous when he discovered that the stereo values of the biggest shot in Tron: Legacy were equivalent to the smallest shot in Hugo. "We checked and checked: We were four to six times bigger than any other 3D movie. But everything looked amazing. It could have been courage or just dumb luck, but we had the ambition to go big and feel immersive. We needed somebody who'd say let's do this all the way, and Marty was that person." AN IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE He notes that on set Scorsese "never watched a flat monitor — he always watched stereo so he could make 3D adjustments, camera move changes, actor changes. As more time went by, he was able to judge 3D in the same way he'd judge the lighting or an actor's performance." Grossmann points out that even temp VFX shots early in the edit were done in 3D. "It's been standard proce- dure that you'd only do a 3D version of the shot after the 2D version had been finaled," he says. "But when Hugo artists submitted 2D shots I told them we couldn't show them to Marty unless they were 3D." The automaton that forms the heart of the mystery in Hugo was both a prop mechanical man and a CG character. "Several versions of the automaton were built and programmed to function and draw," says Grossmann. "There were different stages of the prop as Hugo assembles it, and there was a stunt version, too." A CG automaton was required for ani- mated sequences, when the mechanical man was thrown into the air and when a facial expression or some body language needed to be expressed. "In the last shot we couldn't get the camera close enough to the automaton to get the framing we needed so we built a CG version to match the real specs of the prop so they could interchange it as neces- sary," he adds. The boy Hugo inhabits three worlds: his own world inside the walls of the train sta- tion, the station he cautiously ventures into, and all of Paris outside. To go behind the walls into Hugo's hidden world "we built five differ- ent partial sets for the camera rig to go through, then filled in with CG as if it were one long Steadicam shot," says Legato. A set that revolved around the camera was fabri- cated for a shot that takes audiences down a coal chute with Hugo. "To create the illusion that [the camera] followed Hugo down the chute 25 feet to the ground we did a previz and knew where and how to make the break to CG and stitch those environments togeth- er," he reports. Production designer Dante Ferretti built an enormous train concourse set at Shepperton Studios, creating the heart of the depot but ending each direction with a green- screen to facilitate set extension. "The trains were CG, the ceiling was CG, the station façade was CG," says Grossmann. "When you went down the hallways and cor- ridors you went off into greenscreen." "Pixomondo's work on the train station was so well done that you don't know where the real set begins or ends," notes Legato. "You get a fully realized sense of place." In designing the exterior of one portion of the train station Grossmann used as a foun- dation a photo he took of some buildings near the Opera, the same façades that Melies shot when he accidentally discovered stop- motion photography. "You can spend months analyzing all these nuances throughout the film," he laughs. LA's New Deal Studios engineered the mechanics of the train crash, which culminates in a shot that mimics an actual photo of a train, which crashed and ended up dangling out the second-story window of a Paris sta- tion. "It's one of the few miniature shots in the film," says Grossmann. "The scene was a per- fect candidate for a miniature — it would have been hard to shoot in stereo and added a huge level of complexity." The crash was supplemented with CG set extensions. Grossmann spent about two weeks in Paris during which interiors were mostly shot; four shots feature actual city exteriors. "One of Marty's signatures in this film, since it was an homage to early cinema, was to have Paris look [like] the Paris of a 1930's movie set, as if everything had been built and designed by set designers of the '30s," he explains. "Some details replicate French movies of the period. "Hugo was a swirling nest of homages to clas- sic cinema from the early documentaries of Edison and the Lumieres to the slapstick comedians to early French dramas." For example, the view of Paris outside Hugo's window, composed of matte paintings by Pixomondo, recreates the rooftops of the opening shot of director Rene Clair's 1930 continued on page 48 Post • December 2011 19 The automaton was both a prop and a CG character. He's computer animated in this shot.

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