Modus FX Integrates Seamless Effects for Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre is the story of an orphaned girl whose strength of character has inspired readers since its publication in 1847. There have been numerous film and TV versions of the novel, but the new film, written by Moira Buffini, emphasizes the gothic aspects of the book and re-orders the narrative sequence, creating greater dramatic immediacy for modern audiences.
“Atmosphere is everything for a film like this, so our work had to support the mood of the story and the scenic locations,” said Yanick Wilisky, VP of production and VFX supervisor at Modus. “The film uses a soft palette and natural light to capture the feeling of a world before the age of electricity, so our visual effects had to be entirely invisible.”
Initially, Modus was hired on this project to alter the appearance of a run-down country manor so that it would show the aftermath of the fire at Thornfield Castle, a pivotal moment in the story. “Focus Features came to us shortly after we had completed work on The American last summer,” explained Wilisky. “Everyone understood that transforming the castle was going to present challenges. They had a tight timeline, but they knew we could do it.”
Shooting on Jane Eyre had already wrapped up when Modus came on to the project. “There was no CG model of the castle. We just had the footage to work with, and because the camera was moving in every shot, we had to use motion-tracking techniques to build our own environment.”
Modus used Science.D.Visions’ 3DEqualizer to generate a point cloud based on the footage. “From that data we were able to remodel the surface of the castle so that we could re-texture the walls,” said Wilisky.
The most difficult shots in the castle sequence were those which included the lace hat worn by actress Mia Wasikowska. The blackened walls of the castle had to show through countless perforations in the hat as the actress moves through the shots. “The castle model had to track exactly on the plate, or the audience would have been able to see the textures moving on the wall,” explained Jacinthe Cote, Modus’ production director. “These shots required a lot of rotoscoping, and then frame-by-frame work with a mix of keying and painting to make everything fit perfectly.”
As the postproduction progressed, Modus’ work on the project expanded. In one sequence shot in late autumn, the season was changed to look like early summer. “The trees were bare, so we had to add CG leaves and a gentle breeze,” said Cote. “The challenge was to match the colors so that everything looked real and fit in imperceptibly with the live action.”
Cote explained that the team collaborated with director Cary Fukunaga from his production offices in London via cineSync – a review and approval system. “We’re used to working with clients from who are based elsewhere and we always work with cineSync. It really is an excellent communication tool for long-distance collaboration,” said Cote.
“Cary has a great eye and he is one of these directors who really understands visual effects in a way that he can talk to us in very technical terms,” said Wilisky. “That was a real asset on this project. It was like working with a visual effects artist.”
A Focus Features Release, Jane Eyre opened March 11. Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) and Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds) star in the iconic lead roles of the romantic drama.
Below: Modus’ Jane Eyre VFX Reel