What is your background?
I worked for 10 years as a graphic designer, compositor and freelance motion designer.
I worked on FROM PARIS WITH LOVE, SKATE OR DIE, THE NEW PROTOCOL, directed a dozen movie titles (SHEITAN, KING GUILLAUME, FROM PARIS WITH LOVE, PIECE MONTEE, LULLABY FOR PI …), supervised music videos and commercials. Then I finally decided to start my own company, Pik.sel, with a sound designer, David Goldenberg. We decided to set up a post-production company on a human scale, and to combine our skills and expertise in both image and sound.
How did the collaboration with director Eric Valette and VFX supervisor Laurens Ehrmann?
I know Eric from his previous film, which I had supervised the effects, and it went very well. We have combined our strengths with Plug Effects for this film and co-supervised the film with them. We are naturally distributed the sequences with Laurens Ehrmann to oversee the movie. It was very rewarding and interesting to work with him.
How do Piksel got involved on this film?
Eric contacted us very early in the film. He wanted us to realize the VFX for the film and feel « at home », able to react very quickly on our proposals, in a light-sized structure of post-production and have some contacts for the best possible result. I realized all the storyboards for action sequences and VFX sequences. We could therefore anticipate early all possible technical solutions in relation with the cinematographer Vincent Mathias and production designer Bertrand Seitz. This allowed us to know very quickly what kinds of effects we were going to shoot.
What are the sequences made by Piksel?
We made the sequence of defenestration of Albert Dupontel and a policeman, all the muzzle flash and bullet impacts, Prison and TV screens compositing, screens and video feedback from the police, stabilizations, paint work, a digital wounding.
How did you shoot the elements for many monitors and TV screens and how did you created them?
The footages composited in the screens were shooted by the second crew. We made the designs when they were needed, then we have composited them. The screens on set were just turned off. We then tracked and « lit on » them.
What references have you received from production for the screens?
These screens were already shot in DV in order to have a look a bit degraded. We pushed a little this degradation, added drops, made color grading.
Can you explain what you did for the stairs sequence?
We performed a double pass when Albert Dupontel jumped on the policeman before take him in a fall. On a second shot, we had to isolate Alice Taglioni in a another take, rotoscoping her, and then integrate her in front of the exploded window, because it was not on the real location.
How does the impressive fall of Dupontel and policeman and how was she shot?
For this fall, we had to connect the fall with the real location and a set in studio. Albert Dupontel and the stuntman he pulls in his fall have first jumped from the third floor of a building in the Paris region, windows closed. Then one floor of the facade was reconstructed in a studio. We then connected the two falls.
Can you explain your work on this sequence?
We blew the windows with debris shot on green screen at 100 fps, created CG debris, we did 2 matte-painting, sets matching, paint work (technical team, safety boxes, cameras), some rotoscoping . It was essentially a big compositing work.
How have you recreated the set for this fall?
We reconstructed the set mainly from photos taken on location at 360 degrees.
Can you explain the design and creation of beautiful end credits?
We started with the idea of red bars to remind the universe of prison. From there, we pushed this concept to a long backward traveling through the bars to remind the evasion of the character. We have composited within the bars of characters portraits. There was a lot of try, lighting research to get to the final result. This work was done in collaboration with one of our designers, Serge Miot.
What references have you received from the director?
Eric Valette had a lot of ideas, we explored a few tracks together, to end to this final result. He gave us great freedom.
What was the biggest challenge on this project?
Give an overall VFX coherence and they have to be mostly invisible, realistic.
Has there been a shot or a sequence that prevented you from sleeping?
Not really, maybe a shot a little « tricky » where we have to clear a car and move it forward a few meters. The shot was long and a little hard to track.
How long have you worked on this film?
3 months with titles.
What are your software and pipeline at Piksel?
We work primarily with After Effects for compositing. It is a flexible and powerful tool that allows us to work at the same time compositing and motion design for the titles designs.
How many shots have you made and what was the size of your team?
About sixty shots and 3 artists.
What do you keep from this experience?
A real pleasure and a wonderful collaboration with Plug Effects.
What is your next project?
The main title of the movie POSSESSION that we just shot. An animation of a logo in stereo, and a TV show project.
What are the 4 movies that gave you the passion of cinema?
Tough question … BLADE RUNNER, HEAT, GOODFELLAS, BONNIE & CLYDE.
A big thanks for your time.
// WANT TO KNOW MORE ?
// THE PREY – VFX BREAKDOWN
// THE PREY – TRAILER
// SHOWREEL 2011 – PIK.SEL
© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2011