IO Entertainment recently served as the sole previs provider for Spectre, working closely with director Sam Mendes, cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema and crews in VFX, SFX, production design, art, stunts and locations, to visualize and pre-plan both the appearance and shooting methodology of key sequences in the film. Pre-visualization work focused on the Day of the Dead opening sequence, the Zocalo Square aerial battle, the escape from Oberhauser’s lair and the climactic Thames nighttime chase.
Recreating the locations for these sequences in 3D, animating the action and matching this against virtual versions of camera lenses and camera rig movement, gave the production a clear idea of how sequences might look and helped establish sequence blueprints. It identified constraints, safety requirements, permissions needed, design details and changes, as well as what needed to be carried out in post. This involved choreographing complex action with possible camera coverage, and working across a range of departments. Work with stunt and aerial supervisors helped identify possible stunts at altitude and establish speeds and safety distances of hero and camera vehicles.
Using copies of real shooting locations, previs helped the locations team scout virtual sets and identify the position of key camera locations that required access permissions. Together with the art department, previs helped determine required builds for the sound stage and backlot, and also helped establish logistical requirements, such as the need to ship additional camera track to Mexico.
The IO team worked with both VFX and SFX supervisors to identify the size and choreography of pyrotechnics for on-screen explosions, helping determine miniature builds, fire requirements and integrate VFX and SFX with live action.
“Using IO’s previs capabilities and animation talent we were able to successfully mesh together multiple departments to understand each other’s specific requirements and expectations in a fairly compressed period of pre-production, shoot and post,” said VFX supervisor Steve Begg.
“Spectre‘s seemless opening sequence was a massive technical and logistical challenge,” said Brad Blackbourn, company director at IO Entertainment. “Working across the production, we pieced together how it could be achieved and what staging, choreography, equipment and set builds were needed. After hundreds of iterations we worked out how to get the shot, which involved a complete build over of the roof of several buildings in Mexico City, so the Technocrane could track alongside Bond as he ran above crowds almost a hundred feet below.
“For the complex aerial fight sequence over the Zocalo, the production needed to find a way for stunts to be performed on location with a helicopter looping, rolling and flipping just meters above the 16th-century cathedral and the National Palace, dodging a hundred-foot-high flagpole and then swooping below roof height in the narrow side streets. After choreographing the complete aerial sequence with the stunt and SFX supervisors, we shot aerial and ground-based coverage from dozens of virtual cameras with several different lenses, to isolate the ideal angles. From the selects we prepared maps accurate to within 12 inches of all required camera locations for the local production crew to acquire access permissions.”