Post Magazine

August 2017

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 20 of 43 19 POST AUGUST 2017 DIRECTOR'S CHAIR but it can't give you a performance, and a lot of the camera angles I choose are based on what the actors are doing and the lighting. We did it on the last one because the studio had become accustomed to the idea that, 'it's full of VFX, we need to see a previs.' But I like to work with actors like Andy and Steve in a very improvised way on the day. I might have an idea of how I want to shoot it, but that can change with their input. I find that when it comes together organically like that, it's the best thing for the scene — the whole movie and their performances. For instance, the scene between Andy and Woody — you can't previs that and how they play off each other. But then I previs'd all the battle scenes extensively with an artist and that was very successful as I actual- ly shot the previs. We used a virtual set, and I was able to find shots and angles I like, and choose lenses, so that was huge. It allowed me to explore shots on sets that weren't even built yet." All the visual effects were obviously crucial. How early on did you integrate post and VFX with the production? "Here's the thing. When you make these huge, complex films full of cutting edge VFX, you literally begin post and all that stuff on day one during pre-produc- tion. We had a big team of people on it, including VFX producer Ryan Stafford who worked on Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and monster productions like The Avengers: Age Of Ultron. So, I began breaking down the script and going through all the effects, because they're so expensive that you have to come up with some sort of estimate of how many you think you'll need. First you have to figure out what you can actually afford, what all the parameters are and then technically what we could actually capture." There's a lot of interaction between the apes, and also with horses and people. That must have been very challenging? "Very, so Weta began on all that right away, although the lion's share of the work is all in post." Did you have a bigger budget this time for all the VFX? "We did, but then the budget for the overall film was about the same, so we had to be very careful about how we did things. We started on the VFX and then I began on previs, and then all the post is so detailed as all the animators are the ones who're interpreting Andy Serkis' performance and facial moves, and Steve Zahn's movements and face and all the other actors' faces. So for hours and hours a day, we'd just go over shots and put up a big split screen with, say, Andy's face on one side and then the animation on the other, and then trying to figure out if it all worked. And we'd have it all set up with a camera, like a Skype camera, so they could see what- ever it was that I was pointing at with my laser pointer, and that way it was really clear what we were talking about, as they were down in New Zealand at Weta, and I was here in L.A." Where did you do the post? "It was all done on the Fox lot — all the sound, everything — and we spent a whole year on the post and had two whole floors in this post production build- ing. One floor was dedicated to editorial, and the other to VFX, and I'd spend one half of the day in editorial, and then the other on VFX, and we'd all work till mid- night every day. I didn't have dinner with my family for over a year!" The film was edited by William Hoy and Stan Salfas, the same team as last time. Tell us about that relationship and how it worked. "Last time, they were on the set, but this time Bill stayed in Vancouver and later moved editorial to L.A. where they basically cut scenes together. Bill and I tried to watch dailies old-school style at the start, which I love, but the shoot was so brutal that it became impossible. So they'd cut and then we all worked on it together after the shoot." How many visual effects shots are there in the film? "The last one had probably a couple of thousand, and there are significantly more on this, plus so many more ape shots which were so complex to create. There were only 10 to 15 shots with- out any VFX, so it was insane. Weta did them all and Joe Letteri and Dan Lemmon were the Weta VFX supers again. Dan was on the set and we spoke every day, and we had some very chal- lenging sequences, like the avalanche, where we used fluid dynamics and physics to get it right. We also used a lot of new tools, such as Manuka physLight, which allows you to light the apes as if a DP was lighting them, and we also used this new system called Totara developed by Weta, which mimics nature in the way trees develop and age. All the VFX were quite daunting, but as we began post so early, it was actually easier to finish than the last film." The DI must have been vital? "Yes, and we did it at Company 3 again, on the Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve, and we tried really hard to get exactly the right contrast, and all that was driven by what made the apes look as photo-realistic as possible. So it was all very carefully calibrated. The weird thing is, we were doing post for over a year, but the movie only looked like the movie at the very end. It was like seeing it for the very first time." What's next? "Batman! We're starting soon. It's pretty exciting." Weta completed all VFX for the film.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Post Magazine - August 2017