Back in 2015, Chris Harvey explained the visual effects work made by Image Engine for Child 44. Subsequently joining Oats Studios, he assumed the role of VFX Supervisor for director Neill Blomkamp, then continued his journey with projects including Bloodshot, Demonic, and 65.

How did you get involved on this movie?

I was actually still on 65 with Sony when VFX Producer and very close friend of mine Dione Wood called me to tell me about this movie she was on and how I had to read the script, that I would love it and needed to come do it with her. I told her I would love to read it but wasn’t available. She kept hounding me and then my agent at the time (Holly Jeter) also started telling me about this film that Sam Esmail was doing and that she thought we would work well together and that it was a special project. At first I didn’t even realize they were talking about the same thing. Anyway… as things freed up for me over at Sony and I was in the market for something new. So naturally I rang up Dione to ask if they had found anyone yet. As luck would have it there we in the middle of interviewing that very week. I read the script and got a call with Sam. As Dione and Holly said I did like the script and found Sam very intriguing and someone I thought I would enjoy working with, it seems he felt at least somewhat similar as he ended up giving me the thumbs up and after a few more calls and interviews Netflix brought me on.

How was the collaboration with director Sam Esmail?

Great, I really enjoyed working with Sam… but he isn’t easy. In his own words, during our very first introductory phone conversation he warned me that he is “persnickety”. I laughed when he told me that, but its true. And I say that with the utmost respect. Sam is extremely (like EXTREMELY) demanding and striving in all things at the smallest detail for excellence and perfection. This could be exhausting if not for two very important things. Sam has a very clear vision for what he is trying to accomplish. I mean he really thinks through every small detail. Secondly and even more importantly Sam is honest. By this I mean in a lot of ways. He is honest with and about himself, he knows who he is and what he is… he knows what he knows and what he doesn’t (hence his first comment to me). He is also honest with his team… and isn’t afraid to speak this honesty. It also means he expects you to know what you know (the job he hired you for). For me this is essential. He and I can go toe to toe and disagree on something each speaking honestly from the heart and there is a total mutual respect. He listens and then makes his choice on the direction he wants to take, but taking your view into account. That doesn’t mean he necessarily sides with you on that particular topic but it most definitely does mean he takes it into consideration and makes a more informed decision. After the fact, conversation done, no grudges or weird personality issues… just two grown ups having a passionate conversion. It’s foundational to be able to have completely open creative conversations that don’t get in the way of working and collaborating.

What was his approach and expectations about the visual effects?

Well, first off like I said it’s demanding, but that’s just a general statement about his expectations for every department. In terms of VFX Sam has not had a huge amount of experience with them, and while he trusted me to do my job he definitely had an general innate distrust of visual effects… could they ever look real or good enough. That wasn’t to say he would get all micro-manager with us… in fact it’s quite the opposite. As we got to know each other and that trust built up quite quickly he would explain to me what he wanted and then really just say “show me when it’s done”. Obviously I wouldn’t just hold it from him until the end… we would examine things anytime I felt it was at an important point to get his creative direction and make sure we are on track or if I felt that I wanted to make sure that what he thought he wanted was in fact what he expected it to look like.

Practically speaking, if we could shoot it we would. Both he and I would prefer to go out of our way to get it in camera if feasible. In terms of the stylistic approach, he didn’t want the typical disaster “end of the world” VFX approach of big bombastic over-the-top visuals. He wanted restraint and honest realism. The visual effects were there to lift up or help emphasize what was going on or being felt by the characters. They weren’t intended to be the main course, more the seasoning to bring the flavours out.

And then there is something thats more difficult to understand, he wanted a shared sense of “taste”. Sam, Tod (the DP) and I would talk a lot about it, and it’s not something easily put into words other than to say things in the film needed to “fit”, to share a similar reasoning behind choices made… a shared taste. Sam clearly has a style… when you watch the film its got his fingerprints all over it. I guess thats the “taste” and it was important that the VFX fit with that and not work against it.

Ethan Hawke, Julia Roberts, Writer/Director Sam Esmail and Mahershala Ali. CR: Courtesy NETFLIX

How did you organize the work with your VFX Producer?

Dione and I have worked together many times and known each other for years, we are very close, our families are close… you might best say it’s like we are siblings at this point. It would also be remiss to not mention our Production Supervisor Alec Hart who is equally an integral part of the family and team. Obviously I ultimately deal with creative, Dione with budgets and schedules and Alec with much of the tech (and a whole lot more to boot), but really there is so much trust and open communication its a very blended process. We all have and respect our “lanes” but also always have each others back covering each other across the entire process.

How did you choose and split the work amongst the vendors?

The division of work was pretty standard. We looked at the type of work we had, grouped it, then we looked at the budgets. Then we looked at vendors that fit these aspects, what vendors we either had worked with in the past and had good experiences with and any ones that we were interested in building new relationships with. As I mentioned Sam was generally distrustful of VFX but also hungry to learn everything he could, so we wanted to really include him in the process. Building trust with your director is key, especially if it’s the first time you have worked together, and so we discussed each of our top vendor selects, the reasons why, what they brought to the table etc and made him part of the choice in the selection. In the end we ended up with 3 primary vendors:

El Ranchito out of Spain for the oil tanker, plane, and Tesla sequences, as well as the backyard set extensions and a lot of season work.

Distillery VFX in Vancouver for the Red Rain sequence and most of the camera oners including the very elaborate and involved final shot of New York under attack.

Framestore Australia for all of the creature work (Deer and Flamingo) and the all CG space shots.

In addition we had hired our long time collaborator and incredible artist Hunter Kuhnert as our in-house artist. Instinctual for minor misc cosmetic work and finally Image Engine for some work on the plane crash.

Where was filmed the various sequences of the movie?

Pretty much everything was filmed on Long Island in New York between early March through June.

The movie has many impressive long continuous shots. How did you organize the shooting for these shots?

Sam and Tod (our DP) extensively shotlisted the entire film prior to shooting and they would share these shotlist breakdowns with me and other HODs. Many of the shots really didn’t pertain to us specifically but in the case of these longer continuous shots we (usually Sam, Tod, Rich (key grip), Anastasia (Production Designer) and myself) would sit down and have discussions over how to best achieve what Sam and Tod wanted… and as the conversation grew and impacted other departments then those relevant HODs would also be brought into the conversation. Often the shots would require shooting multiple passes in a variety of places (various stages and locations), different camera rigs and even cameras (drone vs the Venice for example). The goal, aside from just accomplishing the shot was obviously how to achieve it with the least pain, both on set but also later in post when we in VFX had to assemble it all. I would do detailed breakdowns (in some cases we would also previs) of where and how the overlapping plates would be and make sure all HODs were briefed and that we were all in agreement. Then on the day of shooting Sam would focus on the creative in both the performance of the cast and the camera and I would focus on the technical to ensure we could put things back together. Once we both were satisfied with a take we would move on. Sam is extremely specific when it comes to all details of the performances (camera movement included) so there were some seriously high double digit number takes… so on the odd occasion where when that was finally nailed and I had to ask them to go again everyone was extremely gracious and understanding. That didn’t happen very often however, it was quite incredible to watch the crew work… the level of precision and repeatability was pretty remarkable… true crafts men and women.

Can you elaborate about their creation?

Once we shot the plates and I confident that what we got would work later in post (I would do quick composite edits onset on my iPad of the various takes and plates as a proof/sanity check) final takes were selected and the work was broken down into essentially two categories. Passthroughs (the camera was required to move through a physical object, like a wall or window) and Stitches (various plates shot in multiple passes often in different locations and assembled to feel like a single continuous shot) and in some cases both. Distillery VFX handled the bulk of these shots and the level of work within those two categories varied… here are a few examples:

Passthrough: The opening shot of the family in the car required that the whole right side of the car had to be removed in order to facility the cameras physical movement. We had to put all of that back with CG elements so that everything felt intact and present.

Stitch: The moving through the floors of the house (either from the basement all the way to the second floor or the reverse were straight composite stitches… all elements were shot in camera, a plate per floor (with a small floor interior cross-section for each). Another more complicated example was the highway shot that booms up over the road sign to a straight down birdseye view of the Jeep traveling to the house and eventually parking and the family getting out. This one was two drone plates that in the end required a large CG reconstruction of the entire frame to bridge the two plates.

Combinations: One of my favorite cameras in the film is early on when Amanda walks up the stairs, down the hall and into the bedroom with the camera starting looking straight down, then spiralling into a horizontal dolly and finally pushing into her on the bed. This was shot in three different passes in three different location. The first section was on our main house set on stage. This carried us to the point where the camera passes through the second level window. The second section (the horizontal dolly exterior looking into the hallway) was done on location at the actual house.The third and final section was done on a different stage where the interior bedroom set was located. Not only were these done in different location but across roughly 3 months of shooting. In order to reassemble these plates a variety of things were needed, CG reconstruction/extensions of the set, extensive reflection cleanup/set reconstruction, CG asset (windows) being added back in.

Finally, there were actually a number of occasions where the camera did not necessitate a passthrough or stitch but VFX was still called on to assist. This would happen when the execution of a camera move would require physical aspects of the set to be removed in order for the rigging to be able to occupy that space. The most common example of this is in many of the top down or high angle shots in the living room or kitchen, the hanging light fixtures or sections of a wall/ceiling would have to be removed and we would have to add them back in CG. A good example of this is the shot were Archie vomits and the camera move across and up through the room to settle looking down on GH and Ruth.

As you can see each required its own set of challenges and tricks but generally speaking they would fall into those categories.

What was the most challenging part with these shots?

Each shot really had its own specific technical challenges. More generally speaking the biggest challenge across all of them was the elegance we wanted to achieve. We never really wanted the audience to think about it as it happened, rather it was more an after the fact wait what? … or nothing at all. I think this is best characterized in the first continuous stitch you see in the film. We are introduced to the whole family in the car as they are driving off on their vacation. The camera starts on Amanda, drifts down to her phone, up to the console on the dash, over to Clay, the back to Archie and across over to the ipad and then pulls back to reveal Rose…the whole time traveling through the car until that last pull back when we find ourself looking down through the side window. We never wanted a pop as we went from inside to out, but we also didn’t want a dissolve or fade. So the trick was in how we brought on the reflection to feel natural, subtle and non-jarring. This was common discussion for all of these shots, how and where to find that elegance.

During the movie we are seeing many strange events. How did you create the cargo, the planes and the Tesla?

The creation of the vehicles themselves were really pretty standard hard surface modelling etc… The oil tanks, the plane and the Teslas were all handled by El Ranchito. For all of them we gather lots of reference and got Sam’s approval on the specific make and color scheme. In the case of the Teslas we actually had a few drivable models as well as a few crashed ones on set so we were able to both lidar, hand scan and photogrammetry them. We also had a bunch of actual plane debris scatter on the beach so were able to scan those for parts as well.

How did you manage the animations challenges with these vehicles?

I can’t say there were a lot of challenges specifically related to the animation of the vehicles themselves. I mean to be honest their performances are quite minimal, they aren’t doing a lot of “maneuvering”. Obviously the simulations of each posed many hurdles but thats a separate question. In terms of the animation it was about finding the right blocking and pace for each, and then really adding the small subtle details. For instance the Teslas needed tiny road vibrations before they felt truly authentic. The oil tanker minor adjustments to its tilt and shuddering resistance as it ran aground. But all of these things are subtle details that if they pop out at you it’s been taken too far.

Can you elaborate about the plane crash and the massive wave after that?

This was a tough shot and most people probably think about it primarily as a FX simulation type of VFX shot but there were actually three main components to it:

1. The stitch.

We had to break this shot up into three separate component plates… the beach, the grass, and the interior house. The first two had to be broken up due to logistics with the cameras travel distance, and the last because it was a stage build with a very large SFX water cannon component. We actually started with shooting the grass (second portion) on our pre-shoot day (pre day one of principal photography). Then roughly a week later the beach portion. And then on the very last day of principal photography the interior portion. The camera move, matching momentum, angle etc.. was quite a challenge on this since we didn’t want to use any tricks where some object wipes frame, it was important that the stitches happened in full view. In order to get around overly complicated warping or digi-double aspects with GH we carefully timed his occlusion by the interior window frame and the moment he bursts through the door, and for the transition from beach to grass I pitched the idea that he stumbles as he scrambles up the bank so we lose him for a split second in the long grass. El Ranchito did a great job taking what we shot and seamlessly bring it all together.

2. The environment

There were a number of augmentations and extensions needed to the environment, totally separate from the stitch work. Plane wreckage had to be littered into the distance. We enhanced the height of the berm / bank between the backyard and the beach to help with the believability that GH could not see the debris when in the backyard. And finally this entire exterior sequence was the first thing up in the schedule and there are no leaves on the trees in early march… so we had to replace/augment a lot of vegetation, trees, bushes, grass, etc… Again El Ranchito did an amazing job with all of this work throughout this entire sequence.

3. The splash

And finally we have the splash which was handled both digitally and practically. Image Engine came in to help with the digital aspect of the splash. One of the biggest hurdles with the actual splash was the concept of it. We had a shot that the pacing and framing were really dictated by the performance of GH… into that we needed to fit a physical simulation. To find the right balance of scale, composition, and speed to convey this sense of danger, this Goliath of a wave chasing our subject into hiding and then crashing down on him. Once we finally nailed the blocking though a lot of exploration it was endless iterations of simulation and details to bring that concept to a final photorealisticly plausible event.

How did you work with the SFX and stunt teams on this sequence?

As I mentioned the final plate element (the interior house) also contained a large SFX element to it. We had I believe 7 massive water cannons lined up outside the front of our interior set (which was setup in the parking lot outside the stages. The set was essentially a box with the back wall removed so the camera could accomplish its move and the water had somewhere to go after it was fired through the windows. The sequence of events were basically the camera would start its overlapping movement pulling back through the window and into the interior, as soon as the door was in frame GH would burst through shutting the door behind him. As he did that latches would fire, securely locking the door and protecting Mahershala (he did this stunt himself) and simultaneously all 7 water cannons would fire utterly blasting and drenching the set. I believe we did three takes. Then finally in post we used a mixture of our CG wave and the practical water SFX mixed together.

Can you elaborate about the creation and animations of the deer?

Framestore Australia was pegged for this work, I had just worked with them on all the dinosaurs on 65 and they are such a joy to work with we pitched this to them and they we able to take it on and fit it into their busy schedule. The mantra for this was always just one of realism, restraint to not over animate/over perform but at the same time layering in all the subtle details (both from an asset perspective as well as animation) that make them feel like they are living and breathing creatures… even though they are often so “static” in the frame. Top that off with needing to do shots with hundreds of them, the interaction with all of the leaf litter and the extreme closeups… it was no small feat they pulled off! To assist them we collected a ton of reference material both in camera and in prep. We visited petting zoo and photographed and filmed white tailed deer for a day. I 3d printed a variety of different deer heads (baby, adult female and male) with removable and swappable antlers. We could then use these to scatter around onset so the camera and cast knew where we intended to add our CG deer. This gave eyelines and framing guides to everyone and even inform lighting decisions. In some cases I would physically hold the heads and move them (puppet) them to give cast something additional to perform against. Finally we also purchased two actual taxidermied heads (who we called Milli and Vanilli). These would become what we called our “ground truth” passes. We would scatter them in shot and film specific plates of them where we would walk them through and move them in the light. Then while animation was going on, the lighting team would start with a static CG head that matched the taxidermy heads and render a side by side comparison. Once this ground truth study was done and you effectively could not tell the difference between the practical head in frame and the digital one we would present that to Sam. This removed any question about lighting/shading/integration and then we could all solely focus on the performance of the digital deer knowing that our ground truth matched. This proved to be very effective since it gave early confidence in the photorealism for each shot to Sam.

Can you tell us more about the pink flamingos?

There is no way to describe this other than to say it was hard… very very hard. We are talking about creating entirely digital photoreal feathered creatures (that we have all seen before) that have to stand up to extreme closeups in a long shot…. while not only interacting with falling rain (feathers move when they get hit with raindrops) but also the closeup detailed simulation of the pools surface. And go figure… there just is not a lot of specific reference of flamingos doing this… haha. We obviously collected every reference of flamingos we could find and then to help understand a correlation to our extreme lighting conditions (night with blue saturated uplighting from the pool I did a bunch of color matching between the reference and our plates… effectively neutralizing both then reverse grading the reference back into the footage together with extra atmos on top of the reference in order to get photographic reference that was more tailored to our specific needs. This color study actually proved to be very effective in nailing the look and color of the pink. In addition, on set we shot the usual reference plates. I even printed a bunch of grey flamingo heads for reference (but alas we could not get our hands on any real flamingos, taxidermied or otherwise to get on camera as reference). Additionally we shot passes where we threw grey dodge balls into the water to use reference and as water splash elements. After that it was just a lot of work by a lot of talented artists iterating over and over again as Sam and I pushed for more and more detail. It can not be overstated how challenging these shots were.

How did you create the various shots in Space and on the Moon?

Obviously these are all 100% CG (If someone needs me to go shoot plates up there one day I am all in!) Framestore handled these shots and I knew they would be great at it since I had just worked with them on creating a few space shots of earth on 65. I first collected a ton of highly detailed 4K footage from space. Then based on the script and conversations with Sam organized that footage into selects for each shot. Sam and I went through these collections and discussed which ones worked and why. From there we did a detailed blocking pass with Framestore to get composition and timing locked editorially. Once that was done it was just all about endless layers of detailing things up to get the shots to the point where they felt as rich and as authentic as the reference footage we started with.

The moon shot was the most complicated as we don’t really have good reference for that angle and a solar eclipse from that perspective. Sam’s vision for it was very specific (creating this iconic image of the moon, the flag and the eclipsing earth) that required us to cheat reality. But I think we pulled it off and hopefully no one is thinking about the camera move but is rather caught up in the imagery of it all.

Can you explain in detail about the impressive wide shot of New York with the explosions?

This was the single longest and most complicated continuous camera shot in the film… and on top of that it had extensive environment and simulation work. We brought Distillery VFX on as our partner for this, it required a lot of trust and I had worked and been in the trenches with them long before they started their own company so was very happy when they agreed to take it on.

Lets start with describing the camera. It’s made up of 5 different elements/plates:

1. the boom up behind Amanda and Ruth. We shot this in a forrest at the edge of a clearing with a big blue screen out in the clearing (1st plate we shot)

2. a drone plate rising and then drifting horizontally looking out at New York. We shot this off a boat in the East River just west of Whitestone Bridge. (5th plate we shot)

3. another drone plate rising with trees in the foreground… then drifting horizontally above trees (and neighbourhood), then tilting down and pushing into the Thornes house location (4th plate we shot)

4. a big crane shot that push down to the Thornes house and right up to the broken window pane in the door (3rd plate we shot)

5. dolly (not on tracks… just manually pushed/driven) starting outside and moving through the entrance, down the hallway and eventually into the dining room where we find Rose binging on junk food. (2nd plate we shot)

It was quite a task to plan and execute all of this and my initial slap comp/edit I was pleasantly surprised at how well it all lined up to be honest. Now that said… once the final execution of the stitches had to occur you find all sorts of gotchas. Timings change, subtle difference in perspective or color and light changes etc.. The amount of work that Distillery had to do to put these back together was a lot. But in the end I believe all the plates were used as intended (together with augmentation and re-projections obviously). The one plate that wasn’t specifically used was really the New York plate but that was truly more of a reference / element pass and for that it worked. But even with these plates there was very extensive digital environments, hero closeup forrest elements, wider full forests, and obviously the entire digital New York.

Then there was the simulation work, the attack on NYC. This was a task not at all taken lighting, and I don’t mean from a VFX technical perspective, I mean from a historical and very serious one. Everyone is familiar with the events of 911, they permanently altered and affected the lives of millions of people. Being asked to create a shot of NYC under attack one can’t help but to draw parallels… the intent was to create a sense of that same horror, adding weight to the climax of the film, and so it needed to be treated with the utmost respect. I personally visited the memorial and museum to refresh the gravity of the events and again pay my respects. For the VFX work itself there is the obvious technical and artistic work in creating the various simulations, the interaction of smoke, debris, and lighting as things roll between buildings. Finding the right look and balance to each destructive event. But before that could even start we had to really dial in the pacing and composition, the way we reveal it, the timing and location of each beat, how the eye roves around the image, using negative space and time to emphasize certain moments. In the end I am really happy with how it all came together, not just the VFX but the score and sound design for the moment. It’s definitely a somber moment in the film and while there are times when the entire frame is CG no one should be thinking about that.

Did you want to reveal any other invisible work?

Absolutely! I want to call out the amazing environment work by both El Ranchito and Distillery. They absolutely crushed it and its unlikely anyone will know any of this was even there and they deserve a call out for it. It’s not glamorous work but it still plays an important contributing factor to the story. Sometimes we overlook these “little” things and I feel its important to start educating the world and giving credit to the VFX artists that do this invisible work as well. On this film it fell into 3 categories.

1. Backyard Extensions.
The main house work was actually shot both on location but also at least half was shot on a stage in an incredibly accurately recreated set from Production Designer Anastasia White. People might ask why would we build a duplicate of the physical house when we were shooting there as well (couldn’t you just have done everything on location?) but it was a necessity for Sam and Tod in order to control the lighting and to be able to fly literally any wall, ceiling or floor out so they were unlimited in how they moved the camera. While we did have a large rosco sporting a photo of the backyard (which worked surprisingly well) there was still a large portion of shots where we had to recreate the backyard. What made this more challenging was that shots would cut together from location to stage back to back and obviously it all had to be seamless.

2. Neighbourhood Cleanup.
Sam wanted to create a sense of isolation in the film. And one of the ways he wanted to do this was through a bit of a visual subconscious trick. It’s unlikely anyone even noticed its absence directly, but hopefully they felt it. As you can imagine Long Island is fairly densely populated, you don’t find a lot of places with one house all by its lonesome or country roads with nothing around you…. but that is what we see in the film. There are countless shots where we removed human structures… through glass, through hair, mixed into foliage etc..

3. Seasonal Work.
Scheduling and location availability means you do not always get to shoot where you want, when you want. The this case we started filming in early March… but if you remember the film is set at the end of summer. Long Island is full of deciduous trees. That means there are a lot of trees with no leaves on them at all… but a bunch of bare branches. Obviously we scheduled as best we could to accommodate and push as much of our exterior work to the back end of the schedule and focus on stage work up front, but logistically not everything fits. So that meant that for some exterior scenes we had to shoot them early. One scene in particular worth noting is the scene where GH goes to the Huxley house, where the plane ultimately crashes. This was literally the very first thing we filmed. There was not a tree in sight that had a leaf on it. It’s not just the trees, it’s also long grass, it’s complicated reflections in car surfaces and in rippling pools of water on the grass, its the animation of said leaves and foliage. If we did our job right when people watched the film its something they never even thought about. But if you go back and watch the entire sequence with that in mind you will understand the scope of work required.

Which sequence or shot was the most challenging?

I suppose if I had to be specific about a shot I would say the main oil tanker shot or the plan crash. Technically they were the literally the first shots we turned over and the last shots to final. Interestingly, the plane crash part 2 section (GH running across the grass) we filmed on day one (actually pre-day one) and the part 3 section (GH coming into the house and the water slamming through the windows) we filmed on the last day of shooting… which sorta mirrors post on the shot, first to start last to finish… haha

But as a more wholistic answer I wouldn’t actually say it was a sequence or shot that was the most challenging thing on this film. It’s was the style Sam embraced for the film. Shots were long. Typically an average VFX shot is somewhere between 3-5 seconds. The plane crash 25 seconds, oil tanker 40, and the New York destruction 1 minute 52 seconds. Then on top of that while the shots had moving cameras, the style of the movement was very smooth and even with the subject of focus not changing. This created shots where the viewers eye had a tremendous amount of time to linger and look and take in the event… sometimes almost intentionally an uncomfortably long amount of time. The oil tanker for example is this slow unrelenting unfolding of the large ship running aground. Usually when we see these sorts of things in film they are frenetic, high action, relying on an almost sensory overload of information being thrown at you so fast it creates a sense of overwhelming impact, where in VFX we need to focus on making individual 3 second snippets look photorealistic. But Sam wanted it to be impactful in a different way, in a more realistic sense of how would this really feel to witness… in all the agony of the time it takes for an event to happen… he wanted to sit in it. There was nothing to hide behind for realism. No tricks or sleight of hands we could use for the suspension of disbelief. It meant our work was on screen for everyone to just look at… to let the eye wander to each and every detail and then back again to repeatedly scrutinize. Assets had to be so intricately detailed, simulations tremendously long with extremely high fidelity. This style of just sitting in the events was the over-arching most challenging aspect of the film and made a 600 shot show feel like a lot more.

Is there something specific that gives you some really short nights?

Hmm…Ticks. Ticks are gross and they are everywhere on Long Island, so after working and shooting for however long you have to, then there is the long paranoid process of trying to examine your body and make sure you don’t have any on you. HAHA … but no, not really, I generally have no issues sleeping when I need to.

But seriously…ticks are gross!

What is your favorite shot or sequence?

I have a lot of favorites for different reasons.

I do love the Tesla sequence. Not only do I think that El Ranchito’s work turned out great but the level of complexity (its made up of 16 plates) and departments involved in the collaboration and execution of simply shooting that was in every sense of the word, awesome.

There is one deer shot in particular thats onscreen for I think like 2 seconds… its a super close up and I think Framestore just nailed it! Its eerie, unsettling and (at least in my opinion) completely photographic.

Distillery’s New York destruction shot was pretty epic, technically, visually and hopefully emotionally. I mean starting on the back of Ruth and Amanda holding hands, climbing up through the trees to get a clear view of what they are staring at, drifting over the tree tops while watching the horror of NYC under attack, then tilting down to another location and house, dropping down until we find ourselves moving through its hallways and into its dinning room only to find Rose having a junk food feast… I mean thats a lot for one shot… hahah.

And for our in-house artist Hunter, while no where near his most complicated shot, that shot of the adults perfectly bisected by the wall of the house where one family is inside and the outside is just such an iconic image for the film.

What is your best memory on this show?

Just one… thats tough, it was a great show and a great crew. I honestly had so much fun with not just our VFX team but also with the team on set. So I guess its the people I met and the friendships built.

I suppose, I do enjoy telling my friends and family the story about how I played a dead guy floating in the ocean too 🙂

How long have you worked on this show?

Roughly a year and a half.

What’s the VFX shots count?

From a shot count perspective it wasn’t huge, approximately 600 shots.

What is your next project?

HA … FAMILY! It’s been a long stint of overlapping projects and its time I take a bit of time to just spend with my wife and kids … enjoy life! I am working on some of my own things on the side, if they take off I’ll let you know. And I did a thing with Apple but I can’t really talk about it yet 😉

A big thanks for your time.

El Ranchito: Dedicated page about Leave the World Behind on El Ranchito website.
Framestore: Dedicated page about Leave the World Behind on Framestore website.
Image Engine: Dedicated page about Leave the World Behind on Image Engine website.
Distillery VFX: Official website of Distillery VFX.
Netflix: You can watch now Leave the World Behind on Netflix.

© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2024


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