Andy Kind has been working in visual effects for over 24 years. He worked on many projects like CATS AND GODS, BABE: PIG IN THE CITY and GLADIATOR. Then he joined Framestore in 2001 and work on many Harry Potter movies, CHILDREN OF MEN, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, GRAVITY and the first PADDINGTON movie.
Glen Pratt began his visual effects career in 2001 at Double Negative. He then worked in many studios such as MPC, LipSync Post, Nexus Productions and Framestore. He has worked on films like TOTAL RECALL, DRACULA UNTOLD, EVEREST and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.
What is your background?
Andy Kind // I come from an arts background, studying graphic design and then computer animation at university. I worked in CG for commercials for a while before moving to work in film, first at Mill Film and then at Framestore. I have been at Framestore for around 15 years.
Glen Pratt // I studied Fine Art then completed a Masters degree in Computer Animation.
What was your feeling to be back in the Paddington universe?
Andy Kind // It was great to know I would be back to work on PADDINGTON. We had invested a lot of time designing the character, fine-tuning his proportions, adjusting the groom and tailoring the coat and the hat for the first film that we all felt that we knew the character well.
How was the new collaboration with director Paul King?
Andy Kind // We worked extremely closely with Paul throughout the film, from pre-production right through to the final grade. The film makers even had offices within Framestore for a while, and we were able to speak directly with Paul and editorial. This free flow of information really helped the process, particularly with an ambitious post-production schedule.
Glen Pratt // Was my first time working with Paul and it was a rewarding process Paul is constantly striving fro the best from everyone and I think that shows in the final film.
What was his expectations about the visual effects?
Andy Kind // We were there in a very similar capacity to the first film. We were on set to help establish eye-lines and help guide the Paddington’s interaction with the actors. In post-production we primarily provided the bear, but also helped develop the look of the sequences like the pop-up book and jungle transformation. We also built a CG dog and swan for the bear to interact with.
Glen Pratt // Pauls and everyone involved in the filming expected the visual effects to be an enhancement to the film whilst fulfilling storytelling, without jarring – as well as the bear there was a vast amount of ‘Invisible’ work within the film.
How did you approach this show and organize the work at Framestore?
Andy Kind // We followed a similar template to the one established for the first film. We split the work 50/50 between our Montreal and London facilities both following the same pipelines and sharing assets.
Can you tell us how you choose the various VFX vendors?
Andy Kind // The other vendors were chosen by Marmalade Films.
Can you tell us more about your collaboration with their VFX supervisors?
Andy Kind // I was in Montreal for a large chunk of time to oversee the Framestore work and initially went to visit Rodeo FX to check that the bear had travelled safely, but from then on Paul was happy to deal directly with them.
How did you use the experience of the 1st movie for this one?
Andy Kind // We learnt a lot from the first movie – particularly about the interaction – the bear gets his sticky fingers on a lot of things and so we knew that we would be building hundreds of props. For example in the canteen sequence Paddington squirts ketchup and mustard on Brendan Gleeson’s character, pushes a sandwich in his mouth, hits him over the head with a baguette and is picked up bodily by him – all requiring complex interaction with the CG character and actor. And so we knew we would be replacing a lot of these props with CG versions and set up a pipeline to photograph, scan, build, texture and look-dev these as efficiently as possible.
What are the main changes in this new CG model of Paddington?
Andy Kind // For his second outing the filmmakers wanted Paddington to be a little fuller around the tummy, so we bulked out the model a little. We remodelled the coat to get a better base model to run our cloth simulations with and we overhauled the groom entirely to bring it in-line with the latest in-house fur and shading tools. We also had to build new costumes for him, for example his prison uniform. For this we wanted to keep a familiar box-like outline that his duffel coat provides in his iconic red hat and blue coat costume
Can you explain in detail about the fur creation?
Andy Kind // The fur was groomed using our in-house tool-set and updated completely from the first film. The shaders were also overhauled to be compatible with our latest lighting pipeline
How did you design and create his famous coat and hat?
Andy Kind // For the first film the costume designers provided us with a real hat and coat that we could reference for proportion, texture and shading. During the build phase these evolved to fit the bear, for example it was thought three toggles was more in proportion to his body size.
How was the presence of Paddington simulated on-set and also through his interactions?
Andy Kind // On set we had eyeline markers of various heights, (standing bear, sitting bear, etc) that the actors could connect with, with his lines being spoken off camera.
Glen Pratt // We often had a stand-in for Paddington that we would often run through rehearsals with the stand-in then as we went to shoot the cast would be aware of eye lines and the space that Paddington would occupy. On complex crowd heavy set ups we would have multiple eye lines for his presence – The interactions we would often have a prop stand-in handover the prop that paddington may be interacting with at which point we would remove item ‘take over’ to cg.
Can you tell us more about the eyes creation?
Andy Kind // The eyes were built as physically accurate as possible, with reference to animal eyes. We built and rigged all the component parts such as the sclera, iris, caruncula and added a wet meniscus that joins the eyelid to the eyeball.
How did you handle the lighting challenge?
Andy Kind // We gathered lots of on-set reference of the lighting set-ups so that we could replicate the world in CG. This included rebuilding all the sets so that accurate intensities of bounce light filled the bear in addition to the hero key lighting. We shot reference of a maquette of the bear, a stuffy, for each of the lighting set ups that the lighters could use to check values.
With such a rich fur, how did you manage the render times?
Andy Kind // We rendered in Arnold, and render times were optimised as much as possible before pushing to complete a sequence.
The movie opens in a beautiful location in Brazil. How did you created this environment?
Glen Pratt // This was based on 8k Alexa footage that was shot at Iguazu falls on the Brazilian Argentinian border- the high resolution allowed us to augment some of the landscape to open up the vista. Framestore then added the water around baby paddington and the log as well as the other members Paddington’s family Aunt Lucy and Pastuzo.
We discover many new places in this second movie. Which one was the most complicated to create?
Andy Kind // For me, the transformation from a prison cell to Paddington’s remembered jungle was the most complex environment to build with thousands of plants, insects and trees built to layer out and establish a dense, growing jungle. And we rebuilt his prison cell to be completely CG to allow for the sweeping camera move we were establishing at to be able to render the transition of light across the sequence.
How did you approach the final sequence between the two trains?
Glen Pratt // Paul wanted this to be a very exciting finale to the Film. throughout pre-production Paul, Erik Wilson (Director of Photography) discussed the best way to get away from the interior train studio lit feel that can blight many such sequences. The Decision was made that we would shoot the principal actors in a transparent tent on the back lot of Leavesden studios. To help create an early dawn like feel to the sequence rigging dropped silks inside the tent. This allowed us to mitigate the use of stage lighting and we could rely on the ambient light to fill the actors.
Can you explain in detail about the creation of this sequence?
Glen Pratt // The sequence was heavily prevized so we could identify the complex beats of the sequence and to the extent we would need plate photography for the wider environments .Once we knew which angles to cover a Vfx plate unit went and shot the background environments in the Lake District. We used Helicopter film services Typhon array which allowed us to get 180 degree field of view on each pass. This helped us to create the world in which the trains would be anchored to.
Which sequence or shot was the most complicated to create and why?
Andy Kind // For me the time-lapse sequence where the prison is transformed into a giant tea-room filled with cakes and hanging with bunting was the most complex to create. Multiple passes were shot on motion control and then recombined in production, however we realised we needed to add a lot more CG to really enhance the transformation. This sequence alone took about 9 months to complete.
Glen Pratt // From my point of view the train chase was the most complex to shoot. There was many parts to the jigsaw that we then pieced back together in post production.
What is your favorite shot or sequence?
Andy Kind // I think the sequence where Paddington of Paddington showing his Aunt Lucy around the paper pop-up book world was my favourite sequence. We needed to research how paper might fold and so contacted a paper engineer David Hawcock who built prototypes of how the books might open and showed us how the buildings, vehicles and people might fold down. From conception, design through to final execution it was an unusual and exciting challenge to work on such a standalone sequence.
Glen Pratt // I think when Paddington transforms the Prison Kitchen and Canteen and Atrium was a lovely looking run of shots – this was something that was worked up in close conjunction with Paul and made sure it had a lovely playful quality that complimented the musical number. I also like the shot of Mr brown doing the splits as the trains diverge from one another – this was a fun shot to film and the end result gets a big laugh from the audience.
What was the main challenge on this show and how did you achieve it?
Andy Kind // The scale and ambition of PADDINGTON 2 was greater than the first: he interacts more, inhabits more environments and was generally a more complex post-production.
Glen Pratt // I think the ambition of this film was much greater than the previous PADDINGTON, it was achieved by a lot of attention to detail and making sure that there was a richness to performance and imagery.
What is your best memory on this show?
Andy Kind // Completing the Pop-Up book sequence and the response it gets as a standalone piece within the framework of film.
Glen Pratt // Difficult one either running around St Pauls Cathedral with 5 film units or flying around the lake district with Paul figuring out which views could work for aerials of the train chase.
How long have you worked on this show?
Andy Kind // I worked on the show for just over a year, on set for 3 months and 9 months in post.
Glen Pratt // I started taking meetings to discuss how to resolve some of the ambitious scope of the film and how VFX could assist with this with Paul King and the other Filmmakers around June of 2016 I started pre production at Leavesden Studios , The last vfx shot that was delivered was the first shot of the film – that was on Friday the 27th of October.
What’s the VFX shots count?
Andy Kind // We worked on over 1100 vfx shots across Montreal and London, which totals about 70 minutes of screen time.
What was the size of your on-set team?
Andy Kind // We had 2 teams of on-set data-wranglers, for first and second units.
What is your next project?
Andy Kind // I have recently started work on FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD, and looking forward to the creature work on this movie.
What are the four movies that gave you the passion for cinema?
Andy Kind // 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, BLADE RUNNER, THE SINGING RINGING TREE and JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS – Ray Harryhausen was my inspiration for getting into animation and visual effects.
A big thanks for your time.
// WANT TO KNOW MORE?
Framestore: Dedicated page about PADDINGTON 2 on Framestore website.
© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2017