San Francisco-based visual effects and post house SPY, (a FotoKem company), recently contributed hundreds of visual effects shots, the digital intermediate and 3D conversion services for Francis Ford Coppola’s latest feature film, Twixt, which screened at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival. SPY’s contribution broke new ground in a number of ways, including an unprecedented integration of visual effects and color grading in the conception and design of ghost effects that play an important role in the film.
“Director of photography Mihai Malaimare, Jr. worked simultaneously with SPY’s digital artists and DI colorist Chris Martin to develop the ghost effect that Coppola envisioned,” said SPY’s executive producer Amy Wixson. “Because they could easily experiment and play off of each other’s work on the fly, a perfectly integrated effect was designed much more efficiently.”
SPY’s team collaborated with Malaimare on the development of the ghost effect, fine tuning the illusion by desaturating the colors and adjusting the quality of the moonlight. The result is a convincing ghost that fully inhabits the environment. The work encompassed approximately 400 visual effects shots for the film.
The full DI was completed with Martin under Malaimare’s supervision as well. In addition to color grading, the DI was used to match effect shots, and to desaturate and perfect extensive day-for-night scenes.
SPY’s creative services with American Zoetrope also extended to the 3D aspects of the film. Coppola designed two 3D sequences into the film that were shot by Malaimare on multiple digital camera formats. SPY devised and executed the technical strategy for marrying the 2D to the 3D material. The 3D material makes up 10 percent of the final film.
SPY also provided specific, unique materials needed for the new technique Coppola developed to give him the ability to change how the film plays out on demand in a screening environment. Coppola intends to execute this creative prowess in a live show, making creative choices in real time to the storyline and ending based on his sense of the live audience’s reactions. He utilized this capability via an iPad during 2011’s Comic-Con screening to huge applause, and is planning to continue this unique storytelling feature at subsequent road show screenings.
“Collaborating with an iconic director like Francis Ford Coppola is a dream come true for us at SPY,” said Martin. “Francis and Mihai pushed the technology and inventively came up with new ways to tell a story. We loved the new challenges and opportunities that created. Our goal, as always, was to enable new ideas for the filmmakers with technology. This type of collaborative work continues to blur the lines between traditional categories like VFX and color grading, and the result is enhanced creative freedom for our clients.”
Mike Brodersen, VP of FotoKem, added, “SPY supported American Zoetrope with a full range of postproduction capabilities in a bold moviemaking experiment, and we are proud of the team for their accomplishments, both technical and creative.”