IN TIME: Justin Johnson – VFX Supervisor – Luma Pictures

Justin Johnson is evolving in the visual effects for over 10 years. At Luma Pictures, he has worked on projects like SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW, THE BOOK OF ELI, TRUE GRIT, or THOR. In the following interview, he talks about his work on IN TIME.

How did Luma Pictures got involved on this show?
Roger Deakins looked to Luma for this project, as we’ve worked with him several times in the past on many of the Coen Brothers’ films. We’ve got a great working relationship with him – it’s always a pleasure.

How was the collaboration with director Andrew Niccol?
Andrew was fantastic to work with, and we had a great repertoire to achieve his vision: A very clean, neat, corporate feel. That feel contrasts nicely with the main characters, providing a juxtaposition of values. It helps characters to stand out and gives the viewer the uncomfortable experience of living in this world.

Can you tell us what you have done on this show?
Luma Pictures provided sixty-five shots for the film in total, including set extensions of several prominent building interiors and exteriors, removal and replacement of structural features and robust matte painting work, including several cityscapes.

Luma also was tapped to add digital demolition, animating the destruction of a checkpoint booth as a limo crashes through it, and creating larger chunks of debris, smoke and dust in Maya.

How did you create the various set extensions for the different checkpoints?
Initially the effect was to be an extension added on to physically constructed bases before the call was made to have Luma do a complete digital build of the gateway, which included the concrete structure plus animated signs and cement barricades. The work was created in Maya.

What was the real size and locations of those checkpoints?
There were three locations for these checkpoints in downtown Los Angeles. Two on the 6th Street bridge and one on Lower Grand St. These were temporary structures and couldn’t be built to look like the impenetrable barriers they needed to be.

Can you tell us more about the creation of the Wasteland?
The final wasteland sequence required a vast amount of digital augmentation Los Angles, is literally littered with identifying characteristics – palm trees, billboards, etc, all of which give it a unique feel. We had to remove these identifiers so that the film would have a neutral look in the city. We also extended the landscape through infinity, replacing an entire ocean in the background with the rubble of this future society.

What was the most challenging aspect on this show?
The final shot of the film- the Wasteland – took up most of our focus during the project. Digitally removing all of the items mentioned earlier: billboards, road signs, roads themselves. We also had to extend the background over what originally was the ocean, so that took a good amount of doing.

How long have you worked on this film?
8 weeks in earnest (not including time on set).

What was the size of your team?
There were about 20 people at any one time.

What is your next project?
We are currently in production on UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING and THE AVENGERS.

A big thanks for your time.

// WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Luma Pictures: Official website of Luma Pictures.

© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2011

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Vincent Frei

Founder & Editor-in-Chief // VES Member // Former comp artist

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