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August 2012

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work on 126 visual effects shots. According to studio owner Scott Davids and head of production Seth Kleinberg, Level 256's work included both 2D and 2.5D animation, monitor inserts, production clean-ups, wire and rig removal, and even two face replacements. The bulk of the studio's work can be seen in the chase sequence, which takes place in the Philippines. Jeremy Renner's Aaron Cross character is involved in a rooftop chase. The actor handled many of the stunts, and according to the Level 256 team, each shot required visual effects work of one sort or another, "Jeremy was doing all of his own stunts — running on rooftops and sliding on buildings," recalls Kleinberg of the "Rooftop Rescue" sequence. "It was very impressive, awesome stuff." To help accomplish the effects, the production's second unit built a Crazy Horse Effects was the main house on Oliver Stones' Savages, creating gruesome bullet hits and surveillance video sequences. rig on set that allowed him to safely move from building to building. Each shot involved the removal of wires and rigs, and even a partially- hidden cameraman. Level 256 has between five and seven artists on hand at all times, and for a large film project, ramps up with additional talent. The studio is Mac based, with a 96-core Linux renderfarm. The Foundry's Nuke is their primary tool for compositing, but they'll occasionally bring out a legacy Autodesk Combustion system. Rush is used for distributed ren- dering. In the event they need to model something, they'll call on Autodesk Maya. Imagineer's Mocha provides tracking capabilities. SAVAGES Crazy Horse Effects ( in Venice, CA, supervised all of the visual effects featured in Oliver Stone's latest film, Savages. The Universal film is a drug cartel-themed crime drama that stars Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively and John Travolta, along with Benicio Del Toro and Salma Hayek. The project marks an ongoing relationship between Crazy Horse Effects (CHE) and the director, having also collaborated on the 2010 film, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. According to principals Paul and Chris- tina Graff, Stone often challenges creatives with thinking on their feet. "His directing style is like riding the storm," says VFX supervisor Paul Graff. Stone often likes to make changes on the fly in response to performance and mood. "He fol- lows the energy, and flexibility is required on everybody's part." "His stories are constantly evolving," adds VFX producer Christina Graff. "He is a writer as well as a director, and will write new dialogue and new scenes — sometimes nightly. He comes up with new ideas and you have to think on your feet." Savages centers around three peaceful mari- juana growers in Southern California, who are approached by a Mexican cartel looking to force a partnership. When they refuse, kidnapping and violence ensues. Paul Graff says CHE was involved from the incep- tion to the finish line, going on set, creating a visual style for the effect and even shooting additional ele- ments when needed. They also coordinated work with outside visual effects vendors, including With A Twist, Bot VFX and Filaments. would review work, guarantee quality and supervise other companies," "In addition to creating shots in-house, we Paul Graff explains, adding that Crazy Horse Effects also made sure color and style remained consis- tent between the different shots. Crazy Horse, says Christina Graff, is mainly Post • August 2012 27

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