Yanick Wilisky is back on The Art of VFX. After explaining his work on SOURCE CODE, he explains to us now his work on BARNEY’S VERSION.

How did Modus got involved on this show?
We were working with Louis Morin, VFX supervisor on THE AMERICAN at the time and he was starting this film with Richard Lewis and Robert Lantos based on this amazing novel written by Mordecai Richler. We just had to help bring this film to life.

How was the collaboration with director Richard J. Lewis?
Richard was sincerely amazing. His directions were very precise yet he was open to suggestions. He knew exactly what he wanted and was expressing his thoughts impressively fast. I loved it!

What was his approach about VFX?
His focus was definitely on storytelling during the whole process. As long as the visual effects were invisible to the eyes and that every action was clear he was satisfied. He had an amazing confidence in us through the whole process.

How was the collaboration with Production VFX Supervisor Louis Morin?
Again, as always, wonderful! We have done 5 films with Louis over the past few years. Louis is one of those visionary VFX supervisor who is able to extract the best out of anyone. Amazing contact with the artists. Great communicator. Very savvy of the full spectrum of film production which becomes an amazing creative addition when it comes to finding solutions.

What have you done on this show?
We generated a CG plane, digital prosthetic additions, green screen compositing, digital matte painting and some monitor insert.

Can you tell us more about the shot in which we see New York from a park? How did you create this matte painting and where was it filmed?
It was filmed in Parc Lafontaine in Montreal. Louis Morin then went to New York with a small crew and filmed the New York Central Park Skyscraper background using the same camera settings for Modus to roto and combine both environment seamlessly.

What was the real size of the set for the shots with Barney and Miriam in front of New York at night?
I do not have the exact dimension but it was a very small set.

How the backgrounds were filmed and composited?
The actors were filmed on green screen in Montreal. Modus generated the water in CG to match perspective and Louis filmed a night skyline in New York.

Can you tell us how you create step by step the impressive CG plane?
The plane was a CL415 which is a very documented and popular model. We started with footage we acquired from Bombardier’s archives. We were able to get references from several points of view which was enough to build an accurately scaled model of the plane. Mathieu Phaneuf, lead modeler at Modus, build the plane over a few weeks. Martin Pelletier who was our lead look development artist, spent another few weeks bringing the last final and decisive touch to the plane. It goes without saying that we are all very happy with the result.

How did you take your references?
Some came from the footage from Bombardier. We took some more references through the web and Louis Morin had acquired impressive HDRI data capture during the second unit shoot.

How was shot the interaction with the lake?
We asked Louis if it was possible to get a small plane or boat during second unit which he was able to get for us. We used the wake from the plane for the tip of our cg plane and enhance the rest of the wake using Houdini as our CG solution package. We then recreated reflections and additional waves emitted from the plane for the final touch.

Can you tell us in detail the creation of the CG water?
Francois Duchesneau was our lead visual effect artist on the project. The amount of water that gets released from these planes is very impressive. We realized, looking at the references, that we needed to have that feeling of light being absorbed by the thick mass of water particles as it gets closer to the core. He came up with an amazing recipe, again using Houdini, who was based on a volume generator technique which gave a lot of thickness and depth to the particles and which allowed us to hit our goal.

How did you create the distant smoke for the fire?
Since it was distant smoke we came up with a simple yet very efficient technique using detailed matte painting element of smoke who where then distorted into the plate throughout the length of the shot.

Can you tell us more about the other invisible effects you created for this show?
We changed the hockey teams name on the card that Miriam gave to Barney before leaving the wedding. We changed a shot of Miriam and Barney coming down an alley in a taxi to a shot of a Rabi coming down an alley in a taxi. We erased Miriam and added a cg hat to Barney to complete his transformation.

How did you create the final shot with the wide view over Montreal?
Louis provided two different plates that we then rotoed and combined before adding CG snow as a final touch.

What was the biggest challenge on this project and how did you achieve it?
Definitely the CG Plane. And we achieved it with a combination of HDRI, references, small and precise detailed (specular, heat distortion, etc ) that blend the whole integration seamlessly.

Was there a shot or a sequence that prevented you from sleep?
The whole post-production went very smoothly. Mostly due to the precise feedbacks from Richard, the confidence from Louis and Richard we were able to complete work on schedule and to a level quality that the film deserved.

What do you keep from this experience?
It’s always an amazing experience and it leaves you with that great feeling when you work on a film you love and that you would watch over and over again. Being surrounded with Richard, Louis and Susan was wonderful. The energy in the studio was high. All the reasons why we love this business so much were all there to make the best film possible.

How long have you worked on this film?
We have worked on this film for 5 months.

How many shots have you done?
65 shots

What was the size of your team?
42 persons (technicians & artists) worked on the film.

What is your next project?
We have recently completed work on TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN – PART 1, IMMORTALS and BIG MIRACLE. We are presently hard at work on MIRROR, MIRROR for Tarsem Singh, another VFX intensive project that we cannot mention for now and we are completing our first full CGI stereo animation film that delivers in a few month.

A big thanks for your time.


Modus FX: Dedicated Page about BARNEY’S VERSION on Modus FX website.



© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2011


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