Anthony Smith has over 14 of experience in compositing. He joined Framestore for KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. He then worked on films like QUANTUM OF SOLACE, SHERLOCK HOLMES, IRON MAN 3 or GRAVITY.
What is your background?
After studying art and design at Central St. Martins I attended Plymouth University’s MediaLab Arts degree course (now known as Digital Art and Technology). With an interest in visual effects I managed to secure a work placement as a runner at a small London TV visual effects house as the work placement year of my degree course. I put in lots of hours learning Shake and helping out with paint and roto work for various broadcast documentaries and promos before trying my hand at some compositing. I loved the experience so much that I managed to persuade the company to make me a permanent member of staff and I stayed there for three and a half years as a Compositor before joining Framestore where I’ve been for the past 10 years.
How did you got involved on this show?
I joined as 2D Supervisor and had the responsibility for setting up 2D aspects of the pipeline, working with the clients on colour decisions and the look development of Paddington, and creating tools and templates before the compositing team joined the project later on.
Can you tell us more about your collaboration with director Paul King?
I worked with Paul to set looks for the film, helped develop the colour of Paddington, and was on set with him as an additional VFX supervisor.
What was his approach to the visual effects?
Paul learnt fast when it came to VFX. He was fortunate to have David Heyman to guide him through the process, which helped him greatly. Paul has a great natural eye for colour, movement and timing and this helped him guide us to realizing his vision for the bears in the film.
What was your role on this show?
I was the Compositing Supervisor and one of the On-Set VFX Supervisors.
Have you used and improved some of the techniques developed for Rocket from GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY?
Both Rocket and Paddington were created at similar times so they actually share many of the same technologies. Both characters used and improved upon techniques and ideas that have been created on the numerous creatures we’ve created previously at Framestore.
Paddington interactions and eye-line are great. How did you simulate his presence on-set?
In most cases Paddington was represented by a simple eyeline stick. This was essentially a telescopic aerial with two small spheres at the top separated by the same width as Paddington’s eyes. The aerial had two heights, for a standing or sitting Paddington. Where we were doing something a little more complex we had the option of having Lauren on set – our stand in who is a similar height as Paddington. Mostly she was used only in rehearsal to allow the actors to get a feel for Paddington’s speed and position through a scene.
Can you describe one of your day on-set and then during the post?
The script was evolving all the time as Paul was always improving and refining it. This of course is what has made the film so funny, entertaining and heartwarming, but it also meant that while on set we had to be flexible and extremely quick at thinking of feasible solutions to the many VFX challenges that were thrown our way. Many of the days on set involved a lot of thinking on our feet and running between sets as the crews were constantly capturing as much as they could to allow for as much flexibility in post as possible.
For me a day in post towards the end of the project involves at least two dailies sessions of a couple of hours each. During which we review the teams work by department and give notes where necessary. There are always problems of all sizes to be solved and looks and ideas to be developed which keeps the day flowing. We also had specific meetings for certain tricky shots e.g. the orange opening, or Paddington receiving his duffle coat, during which we gather all of the artists working on the shot from each discipline together to discuss how best to finish the shot. And of course we had sessions with Paul and David where we would present our work.
How did you split the work between Framestore in London and Montreal?
Once the edit had taken a relatively stable form we had a pretty good idea of what the majority of the work would be for the film. At that point we were able to decide on a work split based on the talents and interests of the staff we have at both of our offices to make the most of their enthusiasm and skills and to enable them to enjoy their work.
Can you tell us more about your collaboration with the VFX Supervisors at both places?
I mainly worked closely with Andy Kind, the London and overall VFX Supervisor on the project as I was 2D Supervising the London portion of the work. We spent much of our time on the project discussing the finishing of shots and how the 2D departments could improve their work.
Other studios are involved on this show. How did you split the work amongst them?
Our main collaborator during PADDINGTON was Double Negative, who created the environment enhancements and treehouse exteriors for the scenes in Peru. Because we were always compositing our bears into these environments we generally scheduled to allow them to do all of their environment work first and then provide it to Framestore once complete, which we treated like a new version of the original source footage to put our bears into. It was a relatively straightforward collaboration and we worked closely to provide work in progress to each other so we knew how the environments were developing and they knew where and how the bears would be moving through the shots.
Was there a shot or a sequence that prevented you from sleep?
What do you keep from this experience?
I’m most happy with having helped to make a great film that I’ll be able to show my children!
How long have you worked on this show?
How many shots have you done?
Framestore completed 756 shots for PADDINGTON.
What was the size of your team?
In London my team consisted of 17 compositors and 8 paint and roto artists.
What is your next project?
What are the four movies that gave you the passion for cinema?
INDIANA JONES AND THE RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
BACK TO THE FUTURE
A big thanks for your time.
// WANT TO KNOW MORE?
– Framestore: Dedicated page about PADDINGTON on Framestore website.
© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2014