Jay Randall is back on The Art of VFX after he had explained his work on IMMORTALS. This time, he tells us the challenges on this new collaboration with director Tarsem and its MIRROR MIRROR.

It’s your second collaboration with director Tarsem. Can you tell us more about that?
Getting invited to work with Tarsem again was great. We were still working on the post production for IMMORTALS when MIRROR MIRROR started shooting so I was bouncing back and forth between the two films. It was a busy summer.

How did you collaborates with Production VFX Supervisor Tom Wood?
Tom Wood was a pleasure to work with. He has great creativity and a good eye. I would gladly work with him again.

What did you do on this movie?
We did the beauty treatment sequence which required us to make a cg bumble bee that stings Julia Roberts in the lips. We turned Nathan Lane into a cockroach. We also did a bunch of cg bull whips and a cg bird plus, we made Julia Roberts look 90 years old.

How did you proceed for the older Queen?
Julia had a dots painted all over her face which we tracked. We got lucky because she didn’t move her head a lot while she was talking so we were able to do the shots entirely in Nuke. We made a matte paintings of an old woman and applied them to her face. We used a black and white light maps to enhance the shading and texture. Once we came up with the right formula we were able to do a bunch of shots fairly quickly.

Can you tell us more about the CG Bees?
The cg bees were filmed with a macro lens. They were inches from the camera.
Whenever something is that big on screen, every detail can be seen. We had to spend a lot of time massaging the fur and textures to get it to look good.

Did you create the face in CG to have better interaction and the the lips change?
We had a 3d head that we used in Maya to help with the animation but in the end, the lips were a 2d effect.

Did you create a dummy for the filming of the CG Bees?
We actually had bees on set that we filmed as reference. That day we had lots of insects on set for the beauty treatment.

How did you design the transformation of Brighton into a cockroach?
The Brighton cockroach transformation was a two step process. First we modelled the transformation at halfway into the transition. It had cockroach arms and legs and Brightons head and body. We projected his head and face onto the model. Then we blended that with a final cockroach model that matched the little guy that we shot on set. They wanted that shot for the trailer and only gave us a few days. We had to work like crazy to get the trailer shot done on time.

What was the biggest challenge on this project and how did you achieve it?
The biggest challenge was getting the Queens face to look 90 years old. We did many iterations of different looks before Tarsem was happy with the look. The hard part was preserving Julia’s performance while still getting the look we needed.

Was there a shot or a sequence that prevented you from sleep?
The bird was fairly difficult due to the short schedule. The studio omitted the shot halfway through post. Then, with not much time left, they brought it back so we had to really scramble.

How long have you worked on this film?
I did three months on set and then three months of post, so six months.

How many shots have you done?
BarXseven did 74 shots.

What was the size of your team?
We were 12 people.

What is your next project?
I am currently shooting THE SMURFS 2.

A big thanks for your time.


BarXseven: Dedicated page about MIRROR MIRROR on BarXseven website.

© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2012


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