Leading design company Pixomondo just shared a VFX breakdown role of their rotating hallway work on the HBO series Euphoria with AWN. The show, which is nominated for six Emmys, follows a group of high school students who navigate love and friendships in a world full of drugs, sex, trauma, and social media. The actor and singer Zendaya leads an ensemble cast that includes Maude Apatow, Angus Cloud, Eric Dane, Alexa Demie, Jacob Elordi, Barbie Ferreira, Nika King, Storm Reid, Jäger Schäfer, Algee Smith and Sydney Sweeney.
In a sequence from the first episode, the heroine of the series, Rue, emerges from a bathroom in a drug-induced state at a house party. She drank some cocaine after taking various drugs. As she walks out of the bathroom, the entire hallway begins to spin without her and begs the question, “Is this really going to happen? Is she down with these party guests who defy gravity, or is it the other way around? "
Describing the rotating corridor sequence, David Van Dyke, the show's VFX supervisor, told AWN: “There was an enormous amount of planning involved in developing our rotating spatial effect. It started with initial discussions about the story and how Sam [Levinson] [show artist and executive producer] wanted to convey Rue's experience to the viewer. It was important to Sam that the shot felt very physical and photographic. As the VFX department, it was our job to lead the technical discussion and tests with the other departments. It started with Sam's conceptual vision, which was quickly translated into simulated practice with extensive pre-visualization based on real physics. These pre-visualization simulations included the actual equipment we would need, the dimensions of the set, the actors who would be in the physical set on the day of the shoot, the weight of the set in relation to the power of the motor we had to make the actual set and then the working model Rotate to integrate our motion detection elements. "
Once they had a working model in advance of how the shot would be performed, they had to build both sets – the rotating hero set and the static motion capture set – based on the previous models. “On the day of the actual shoot, we had to put the simulated elements developed in the pre-visualization into practice,” continues Van Dyke. “This first consisted of recording the hero plate and a week later the day of motion capture based on the camera movement of the hero plate. Once we had all of these elements we had to trace the motion capture elements and put them together into the hero plate. "
Pixomondo's VFX supervisor, multiple Emmy Award nominee Nhat Phong Tran, explains that his team was involved in both the planning and execution of the shoot, where series creatives wanted to show how the heroine looked after drug use felt at a party. "Specifically, they thought of the idea that she would be walking down a hallway where other partiers are, but the hallway, including the people, would revolve around her and make her actually go down the walls up the ceiling and back" , he says. “This involved intensive technical planning and communication with other departments. Since the only way to photograph this was to split the shoot into two different sets on different days, we used the motion controls, which had to be prepared for data. "
According to Van Dyke, the production process took months. "It's a complicated effect that took a lot of initial discussions to decide what we wanted to achieve and what was physically possible," he says. “We ran an extensive pre-visualization process that included the VFX department, the Pixomondo team and all the Euphoria department heads involved in physical production. After the pre-visualization phase, the physical production team had to create and run the shoot, which consisted of the following departments: AD, Camera, Art, Construction, Special Effects, Stunts, Wardrobe, Hair & Make-up, Handle, Lighting, Production and Visual Effects. "
Tran adds that it "took me months to complete this from initial thoughts, through problem solving, to solution implementation and final execution". The sequence went from shooting to publishing and editorial to the VFX team to complete the final composite. "I don't have an exact number," says Van Dyke, "but easily over 100 people were involved in this one very complex effect."
For Van Dyke, the biggest challenge was figuring out the real physics in preproduction so that the effect would work in the camera. "A tremendous amount of money and energy was put into the physical shoot before it happened," he says. “Plan, test and rehearse tons of things. If that had been turned off or done incorrectly, the entire effect would have failed, which it didn't. Everyone thinks VFX is all about post production. What people don't realize is that the best effects come from good planning and hard work in preproduction with well done photography in production. It's what sets the VFX up to look its best in the mail. "
It was a good mental exercise for Tran to find solutions to practically achieve this effect as much as possible. “There was also an incredible time crisis for Motion Control Day, as the motion control data came from the first day of filming, which was on the actual film set. There was very little time left to get the shot from the rotating hallway set, which was moving, prepared, and ready for the Motion Control Day, which happened less than two weeks later. "
Dan Sarto is the Editor and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.