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Entries in Visual FX (1)


Beyond the Mask - Visual Effects

Get ready to be blown away. I definitely was when Aaron took me on a VIP tour. Tour of what? The Beyond the Mask classified visual effects archive room. “We built some awesome sets for the film. Now we’re just making them awesomer,” Aaron told me. He didn’t notice that I had sneaked my smart phone into the room and I snapped a few photos to show you.

Ok, so we weren’t in an archive room; what he showed me was all on his laptop . . . but it was incredible! But let me tell you about it so you can be as excited as I am.  And I do have some top secret pictures to share. Don’t ask me how I got them. . .

The highwayman rides into Philadelphia.

The highwayman rides into Philadelphia.

After I had seen what the visual effects team is creating, it was time to do some investigating. So, I decided to talk to one of the expert artists on the team to find out just how this all works.

Meet Chris Arnold. He’s the lead 3D artist on the Beyond the Mask visual effects team. I was planning to set up a telephone interview with Chris, but switched my plans to involve Skype when I realized that it would be an international call. Chris lives in Ontario, Canada, and is a skilled artist in his field. Chris describes his job this way. “A 3D artist is a generalist set builder and animator that can create a virtual world. My role with a lot of the visual effects shots is to create building assets in CGI.”

Chris works on the prison ship sequence.

Chris works on the prison ship sequence.

Beyond the Mask will employ visual effects to enhance its story, as most films do today, but I wanted to know what the scale of this project was. How many visual effects shots are there in the film? I asked Chris. “I know that we have over seven hundred visual effects shots in the film, but you should talk to Luke, he could get you the exact numbers,” Chris says. Luke is the Visual Effects Supervisor and has been working out of the Beyond the Mask postproduction command central near St. Louis since August. So, I contacted Luke to find out just how large this project was. “We have 741 VFX shots currently, which totals around 65,000 frames of visual effects.  This equals approximately 50.1 minutes of play time on screen.  We have 27 artists on our internal team and are outsourcing some larger sequences to two other VFX post houses as well.” Obviously Luke likes numbers, and as his statistics might show, he is a bit of a computer whiz. Wow. The team is definitely taking this film up another level in excellence.  That’s more visual effects shots than there were in the film Inception!

There are several sequences that Chris is directly involved with. “We have the rooftop chase sequence. We have the prison ship sequence and quite a few others,” Chris said. “We can make it feel much bigger and epic and photo real. For the rooftop chase, we have created over fifteen different 3D models for actual buildings of the time period that are then placed in the scene to create these massive city shots so that we can render them out and populate this 18th Century Philadelphia world.”

I got to preview the rooftop chase sequence, so I followed up on it to see how the visual effects add to this one piece of the film...(continue reading)
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