Prime Focus World is proud of its long association with director David Yates, having delivered 3D Conversion services for the director’s last three films – ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 & 2’, and ‘The Legend of Tarzan’. PFW also has a great working relationship with studio stereographer Chris Parks, with whom it has previously worked on titles such as ‘Edge Of Tomorrow’, ‘In The Heart of the Sea’ and ‘Gravity’; so the team was delighted to be brought on board by Warner Bros. to team up with Chris for ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’.
‘Fantastic Beasts’ is the first in a series of prequels to the Harry Potter series, produced and written by J.K. Rowling in her screenwriting debut. The film follows the adventures of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a magizoologist who has stopped briefly in 1926 New York as he nears the end of a global excursion to research and rescue magical creatures, some of which he has safeguarded in the hidden dimensions of his deceptively nondescript leather suitcase. When one of his magical beasts escapes and starts to run amok through the city, Newt is drawn into an adventure that puts on him on a collision course with dark forces that are pushing the wizarding and No-Maj (Muggle) worlds to the brink of war.
PFW was the lead stereo vendor on the movie, delivering most of the main action sequences and the stereo conversion of Double Negative’s VFX work, which included the creation of the ‘Obscurus’, an ominous dark cloud creature that grows and moves in unexpected and violent ways. PFW’s stereographer for ‘Fantastic Beasts’ was Barry O’Brien, who supervised the conversion from PFW’s London facility.
“Chris [Parks] wanted to develop a 3D look for the Obscurus, knowing that these shots were going to be some of the main action scenes in the movie,” said Barry. “When the Obscurus was contained he wanted a more compressed fall-off to the shots. Then, when we see it released, destroying everything in its path, we opened the depth up and made it more linear. The effect is subtle, but it has a nice effect and allowed us to really play with the depth in the climactic scenes.”
The Prime Focus team also took stereo renders of the Obscurus from Double Negative and manipulated the depth in these shots, as Barry explained. “The Obscurus had a very erratic quality to its movement – spiking and generally feeling very unstable. Taking Dneg’s stereo renders we used our proprietary tools to manipulate the depth to enhance and accentuate this movement, making the Obscurus pulsate while staying in position – a hard thing to do with a stereo render. This made the Obscurus sequences even more interesting and unsettling.”
Another sequence for which PFW took full advantage of its close relationship with Dneg was the shot of Frank, the colossal Thunderbird, flying through the sky to repair the city, as Prime Focus World stereo producer Richard Edwards explained.
“We originally planned for Dneg to provide a full stereo render for this shot, as its pretty much all CG,” explained Richard. “However, there is a live-action element in the form of an Auror – a specialist wizard who investigates Dark Arts crimes. Working closely with Dneg, we pre-converted the live action element and passed this on to them to incorporate into their stereo render for delivery to Chris Parks. Chris reviewed and required a tweak to the 3D, so the stereo render came back to us and we manipulated the depth and sent it back as a final. This was only possible because of our unique relationship with Dneg.”
The PFW team also augmented shots with stereo VFX to further enhance the 3D version of the movie. Rain, rubble, sparks and other VFX augmentation elements were added during the stereo conversion, and special versions of these shots were created for the IMAX 3D version which saw these extra elements coming out over the crop to intensify the effect even further.
Perhaps the stand-out sequence that PFW delivered was the subway fight towards the end of the film, in which the protagonists take on the Obscurus in the tunnels and stations of the New York subway. Again, this involved close collaboration with Dneg, as Barry O’Brien explains.
“These climactic scenes are very dramatic, and there’s a lot of interaction between the creature, the protagonists and the environment,” said Barry. “We wanted to get as many stereo renders as possible of the Obscurus, so we set-up stereo cameras and supplied them to Dneg to allow them to match our converted environments in depth. When we received their stereo renders and comped them into our scenes the results were perfect – it really was a seamless workflow, and because the VFX is being completed in the same building, if we did need a small adjustment it was very easy to get a re-render.”
The team used a similar technique with Framestore, another VFX vendor on the show, taking stereo renders of the ‘Niffler’ beast that had been created using stereo cameras set up by Chris Parks, and stereo converting the backgrounds to match the stereo character.
Summing up his thoughts on ‘Fantastic Beasts’, Barry said: “It was a pleasure to work on a David Yates film, and with Chris Parks again. The lens choices David made on set meant that the movie looked amazing already - add to this the experience of Chris Parks and his direction of the stereo conversion, and the show looks aesthetically very beautiful in 3D. The whole film came together really well, thanks largely to the hard work of our fantastic stereo crews across London, Vancouver and Mumbai.”
‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’ released in cinemas on November 18, 2016 to rave reviews and record-breaking box offices receipts.
RELEASE: November 18, 2016 (US & UK)
Director: David Yates
Studios / Distributors: Warner Bros.
Studio Stereographer: Chris Parks
Stereo Supervisor - Barry O'Brien
Stereo Producer - Richard Edwards
Elements Coordinator - Rameez Mukaddam
Senior Production Coordinator - Dan Hogg
Production Coordinators - Carolina Karlson, Nicole Karlson
Stereo Artists - Vishal Patel, Naresh Rawat
Editorial - James Noorani, Vikram Dharankar
TD - Laszlo Rikker
Systems / Data Support - Esriq Hidil, Dhruv Uppal
Global Head Of Pipeline - Eoin Greenham
Associate Stereo Supervisor - Marc Brzezicki
Stereo Producer - Yi Yang
Production Managers - Jon Warne, Reshma Jhangimal
Production Coordinators - Tylor Maurer, Stephanie Chan
Editorial - Shenyan Liu, Richard Pring
Stereo Artists - Kat Kelly, Ivanna Mikhaylova, Heather Hughson, Rio Harrington, Rob Maisonet, Jason Negreiff, Joanna Johnson, Emmanuel Guevarra, Brendan llave, Nishant Narang, Nicole Nagata, Matthew Lutes, Steven Kong, Ricky Lu, Jamie Moggach, Jimi Clark, Meagan Byrt, Pablo Wang, Owen Catagena, Karen Parker
Data Support - Gregory Koutrakos, Danny Lu, Jahan Zeb, Lucas Baker
Pipeline - Isaac Guenard, Luke Grey, Charlie Luce
Head of View-D™ - Rohan Desai
Executive Producer - View-D™ - Gaurav Jain
Show Stereographer - View-D™ - Jimmy Philip
View-D™ Producer - Parminder Goyal, Ravi Shetty
View-D™ Pipeline TD - Piyush Jain
View-D™ Assitant Production Manager - Ravinder Singh Bishnoi, Akshay Ravi
Show Supervisor - Manu Jain
View-D™ Project Coordinator - Seerat Bawa
View-D™ Creative Supervisors - Dhiraj S Sukheja, Himanshu Ajmera, Rohan Tirkey, Varion Pereira, Gourav Gupta, Omkar Rahate, Salil Dattaram Devji, Rakhee Ghosh, Deepali Shivaji Katekar, Dixa Hemant Desai
View-D™ Creative Leads & SMEs - Kiran Parmar, Rahul Singh, Prabir Bera, Harshad Masurkar, Vikas Joginder, Sandhya Anandrao Chavan, Vinay Pratap Singh, Kuldeep Thakur, Chetan Rathod, Vinod Mahelwanshi, Prateek Sharma, Narendra Singh, Umakant Pandey, Keshav Parab, Biswaranjan Mohanty, Devesh Neema, Mayank Mishra, Subham Ghosh, Rajendra Ahire, Rahul Kumar Singh