Leading design company Pixomondo just shared a VFX breakdown role with AWN of their work as the sole visual effects house in Judd Apatow's comedy The King of Staten Island with SNL star Pete Davidson. The film is released today on Blu-Ray and DVD from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
Under the direction of VFX supervisor Bojan Zoric, Pixomondo Toronto began work from the very beginning of the film. Their efforts included detailed preproduction planning, set monitoring, and a wide range of VFX work that had to be done on an extremely shortened schedule. They spent a total of 12 weeks with the film and produced 170 recordings.
According to Zoric, “VFX footage ranged from standard cleanup and monitor replacement to some thoroughly planned smoke and fire enhancements that required pre-production prep, careful guidance, and many FX and compositing iterations to meet the needs of the filmmakers to meet. "
In a departure from Pixomondo's usual projects, The King of Staten Island was shot entirely on 35mm film and then scanned with 2K. “This meant our compositing artists had to tackle negative repairs, artifacts, light leaks, and stabilizations in addition to standard digital cleanup,” says Zoric. "All work, be it cosmetic tattoo and wound enhancements or complex FX simulations, fell under the category of invisible effects and had to fit into the overall style of the film without drawing attention to itself."
“We spent a couple of weeks working on set in different locations in New York, followed by a period of collaboration where our FX and compositing departments worked closely with the filmmakers and the editorial team,” he continues. “This involved designing smoke and fire improvements, planning the fire-fighting sequence chronologically, and testing approaches to some of the more complicated cleanups. All of the work was done with a small team of 2 FX artists, 10 composers and 2 VFX editors. The pre-production planning and on-set guidance enabled us to complete the work with a smaller team despite a tight delivery schedule. "
The movie's fire fighting sequences proved to be the most complex and challenging for the Pixomondo team. “These scenes included planning pre-production in collaboration with the practical FX department and the DOP, monitoring and working with the lighting, stunts and practical FX teams, as well as detailed and iterated choreography in terms of location, behavior and Smoke and fire, ”explains Zoric. “Before filming began, a general draft plan for the development and spread of fire and smoke was worked out with the filmmakers. Once on set, the lighting and practical effects departments, under the supervision of PXO, provided interactive lighting and ground smoke for the parts of the building. Using photogrammetry, we created a general model of the building that was used by the Digital Effects Department to simulate the correct behavior of fire and the spread of smoke. PXO's compositing team integrated the rendered elements using a variety of AOV passes and created a hero treatment shot that served as a reference point for the sequence. Judd then received multiple iterations for smoke density and fire spread from our in-house VFX editorial team, which were presented as part of the sequence. "
Dan Sarto is the Editor and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.