Laurent Spillemaecker began his career in VFX nearly 10 years ago in Paris as a freelance Flame artist. He then joined the teams of Hybride and worked on many projects such as SIN CITY and 300. In 2008, he joined Rodeo FX and worked on films like SOURCE CODE, IMMORTALS or MIRROR MIRROR.
What is your background?
I studied Engineering with a specialization in imagery. I went into this field because I liked the artistic side more than the scientific side of things.
I started compositing work as a freelancer for various advertisement companies in France. Then I came to Canada and worked at Hybride for 4 years before joining Rodeo FX 5 years ago.
How did Rodeo FX got involved on this show?
I was involved as a compositing supervisor for Twilight. Rodeo FX had already contributed to one of the Twilight Saga films (ECLIPSE) so they knew what we could do.
How was the collaboration with Production VFX Supervisor Terry Windell?
Working with Terry Windell was awesome. Things were very friendly and the communication channels were always open.
What have you done on this show?
We did a Medieval Russian village set extension as well as a pretty gruesome beheading scene in the village. We also created an illusion of a Brazilian forest, a set extension for the main character’s dream house and an establishing shot for Cairo, Egypt.
How did you create the jungle environment?
We used a variety of techniques to create the jungle scene: our live VFX crew actually flew down to Costa Rica to gather practical elements for us. We used a combination of these and matte painting techniques to create the scene. We then added some particles and motion graphics to make it look more alive.
Can you tell us more about the Cairo creation?
The Cairo scene was tricky because a spotlight on the left of the screen was so bright that it was actually showing through the palm trees. We had to completely rebuild the trees using a combination of CG and compositing tricks.
What references and indications did you received from the production to create the old village?
They gave us a lot of creative freedom throughout the whole process. Our only directive was that we had to instantly recognize that we were in Russian by looking at the castle.
What was the real size of the set for the old village?
The village set consisted of a couple of houses and a dirt street in front of a green screen.
Can you tell us more about your collaboration with Sebastien Moreau on this show?
Sebastien was the VFX supervisor on the show. He had final say in everything that went out.
How did you get the references for the various environments?
We had different sources as references for the different shots that we did. For example, for the jungle scene, the director wanted that looked like a specific scene from APOCALYPSE NOW, with large, twisted trees and such. For the village, we used the existing set as the basis for our matte paintings and extensions. The house in the woods was an existing shot that needed to be zoomed out, so we had lots of information to start with. The Cairo shot is also a set extension, so we just added to what was already there.
Can you tell us more about the use of Flame and Nuke on this show?
The Flame stations we used more extensively for practicals (e.g. fire, no pun intended). Nuke stations were used for everything else. It actually does not matter which station is used for what because our pipeline is built in a way that makes it easy to integrate both types of compositing tool seamlessly.
What was the biggest challenge on this project and how did you achieve it?
Our biggest challenge on a shot was for the Amazon scene because we had to rebuild the jungle scene in CG and match the considerable tilt in the camera movement. On a project basis, the communication between their team and ours was so good that it considerably reduced the usual bumps in the road.
Was there a shot or a sequence that prevented you from sleep?
As stated previously, the communication level prevented any nightmare situations but two shots in particular were challenging: the Cairo shots with the trees that had to be rebuilt and the jungle as stated in the previous question.
What do you keep from this experience?
A remarkable relationship with the client.
How long have you worked on this film?
I was on board since day one for this project.
How many shots have you done?
Rodeo did 50 shots in total. I personally worked on 10 shots.
What was the size of your team?
The team fluctuated as was needed for the shot but 40 persons in total worked on TWILIGHT.
What is your next project?
We are currently working on NOW YOU SEE ME, AN ENEMY by Denis Villeneuve as well as an undisclosed ILM project.
What are the four movies that gave you the passion for cinema?
It sounds cliché but they would have to be STAR WARS, ALIEN, THE FIFTH ELEMENT and BLADE RUNNER.
A big thanks for your time.
// WANT TO KNOW MORE?
– Rodeo FX: Dedicated page about THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN – PART 2 on Rodeo FX website.
© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2012