It’s almost forty years since Ron Howard made the transition from ‘in front of’ to ‘behind’ the camera, and in that time he has built a reputation as one of the hardest-working and most talented directors in Hollywood, giving us an array of iconic movies such as ‘Splash’ (1984), ‘Cocoon’ (1985), ‘Willow’ (1988), ‘Parenthood’ (1989), ‘Backdraft’ (1991), ‘Apollo 13’ (1995), ‘A Beautiful Mind’ (2001), ‘The Da Vinci Code’ (2006), ‘Frost/Nixon’ (2008), ‘Rush’ (2013) and now ‘In The Heart Of The Sea’.
Based on the award-winning novel by Nathaniel Philbrick, ‘In The Heart Of The Sea’ follows the real-world events that inspired Herman Melville’s classic sea-faring tale ‘Moby Dick’, and stars Chris Hemsworth as a veteran whaler who is hired as the first mate on ‘The Essex’, which heads out of Nantucket in the early 1800’s on an ill-fated whaling voyage.
PFW stereographer Barry O’Brien led the Prime Focus team for ‘In The Heart Of The Sea’, working closely with show stereographer Chris Parks, who was overseeing the stereo conversion for Warner Bros. PFW has previously collaborated with Chris on shows such as ‘Gravity’ (2013) and ‘Edge Of Tomorrow’ (2014).
“One of Chris’ first pieces of direction on this show was to establish a stereo look and a character for the water,” said Barry O’Brien, stereographer, PFW. “The water wasn’t just something in the background – it was very much a character in this film, and we spent time crafting how the waves looked in stereo, putting in a huge amount of detail that wouldn’t necessarily always go into water shots, to really bring them to life. As we know from the story of ‘Moby Dick’, the whale becomes the predator in this film, stalking the stricken sailors… but equally they are fighting for their lives against the might of the sea itself.”
As always, the PFW team was careful to ensure that the stereo conversion work they were delivering was enhancing the film rather than distracting the audience, and that the conversion complemented the look that Ron Howard and DOP Anthony Dod Mantle (‘Slumdog Millionaire’, ‘Dredd’, ‘Rush’) had created for the film.
“Two recurring elements in this movie were lens flares and water droplets on the lens,” continued Barry. “In stereo conversion we might normally play these at screen plane, or very negative. In this film, we’ve pushed them into the scenes, varying the depth so that you get a feeling of them being there without distracting your eye from the drama.”
One of the most dramatic scenes in the movie is the sequence in which ‘The Essex’ is destroyed, and it gave the team the opportunity to create some standout 3D moments.
“We subtly ramped up the depth for the action scenes,” said Barry. “We would build the depth up to peak at the most exciting point in the sequence, then slowly back it down again. Even in the most frenetic action scenes the edit breathes, and there’s opportunity to appreciate the stereo. There are also some amazing shots where the camera follows the whales underwater and then surfaces with them – these look incredible in 3D.”
Unusually, the VFX work on ‘In The Heart Of The Sea’ had already been completed by the time the stereo conversion work came to Prime Focus World. Double Negative was the main VFX partner on the movie, and PFW was able to harvest all the necessary VFX elements for the conversion from Dneg, as well as from the other VFX vendors - Scanline and Rodeo FX.
“This was a complicated show that required a huge paint resource due to the complexity of the water shots that made up the main part of the film,” concluded Barry. “I think that the end result is fantastic though, and there are some stand-out sequences, such as the ‘squall’ sequence which has a very painterly feel, which just look amazing in stereo.”
‘In The Heart Of The Sea’ opened on Dec 4, 2016 in India, and releases on Dec 11, 2016 in the US and Dec 26, 2016 in the UK.
RELEASE: December 11, 2015 (US), December 26, 2015 (UK)
Director: Ron Howard
Studios / Distributors: Warner Bros.
Stereo Supervisor - Barry O'Brien
Senior Producers - Valeria Andino, Franklin Mascarenhas
Stereo Supervision - Marc Brzezicki, Jimmy Philip, Manu Jain, Dhiraj Sukheja, Gourav Gupta, Puneet Samra,
Rakhee Ghosh, Rohan Tirkey, Sameer Samant,
Swapnil Suryakant Shelar, Varion Pereria, Himanshu Ajmera
Stereo Production - Richard Edwards, Gufran Khan, Chris Preston-Barnes, Dan Hogg, Rameez Mukaddam, Gauree Patil,
Akshay Ravi, Abhishek Pathak, Akash Mangavkar, Nitin Singh, Smruti Satnaik, Andrew Jagtap, Riyaz Nagpurwala, Kevin D'souza, Savio Cruz, Lewis "Sonny" Menga, David Glover, Dean Lewis, Alan Tormey, Kat Kelly, Naresh Rawat, Vishal Patel, Peter Bartfay, Maria Asim Ali, Esme Coleman, Mohit Varde, Arturs Vaitilavics, Dixa Hemant Desai, Sunny Ramesh Chawla, Sabin Sasidharan, Shubham Shanki, Mayank Mishra, Mujeeb Ansari,
Francesco Capone, Piyush jain, Swapnil Kulkarni, Omkar Rahate, Ravinder Singh Bishnoi, Sparsh Mehra, Pushpinder Patel, Himanshu Kumar, Dipti Behera, Parminder Goyal, Siddharth Baloni, Vikas Joginder, Chetan Rathod, Subham Ghosh, Nitin Ravindra Chavan, Aditya Bachhav, Lalit Dawale, Umakant Pandey, Jiji John, Kalpita Tendulkar, Keshav Parab, Jignesh Vinodbhai Solanki, Krushna Raja Ram Udavant, Niranjan Yadav