Exploring the untold story of the Disney’s iconic villain from the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent is the studio’s new live-action fantasy film helmed by Robert Stromberg in his directorial debut. The movie stars Angelina Jolie as the titular villainess, alongside Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Lesley Manville. Prime Focus World created 23 minutes of stereo for the film, comprising 366 shots.
Maleficent, a beautiful pure-hearted young woman, lives an idyllic life in a peaceful forest kingdom until an invading army threatens the harmony of the land. Maleficent rises to become the land's fiercest protector, but she ultimately suffers a ruthless betrayal that turns her pure heart to stone. Bent on revenge, Maleficent places a curse upon the invading king’s newborn infant Aurora - that upon her sixteenth birthday she shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a death-like sleep. But over the next sixteen years, Maleficent comes across the young princess many times and comes to realise that Aurora may hold the key to peace in the kingdom - and perhaps to Maleficent's true happiness as well.
Prime Focus World’s 3D work on Maleficent was led out of its London studio, with support from its Mumbai facility. PFW Senior Stereographer Richard Baker was called in to supervise on-set during the 2D shoot, to help compose shots for the 3D post conversion. Richard and PFW Stereographer Oliver Allen-Wielebnowski then collaborated with studio stereo supervisor Layne Friedman on the conversion work itself.
“Maleficent is a beautiful, visually stunning film in 2D,” said PFW stereographer Oliver Allen-Wielebnowski. “The stereo we created was designed to lift it to the next level of beauty.”
While on set, Richard Baker took the opportunity to discuss shots with director Robert Stromberg, to ensure that stereo conversion considerations were taken into account.
“The intention was to design shots to make things easier during the conversion process,” said Richard. “That can range from simple framing considerations, to the use of foreground elements that may be more effectively added in later, as stereo VFX elements. During the shoot, the director has a ton of things to think about, and stereo may be the last thing on the mind, so being able to show Robert different stills or clips with early stereo look development, while still on set, was really worthwhile, and paid dividends later during the conversion.”
The decision was made early in production that the filmmakers’ creative use of depth on Maleficent would be best served by stereo conversion techniques, as Oliver explained.
“Robert and Layne wanted to use depth and sculpting in the foreground characters to really emphasize their other-worldy look. In order to achieve that look in a native shoot, we would have ended up with these very deep, uncomfortable backgrounds - in conversion, we were able to bring the backgrounds in, creating a much more comfortable viewing experience for the audience.”
The beautiful 3D fantasy world that viewers see on the screen was the result of intense preparation and planning on the part of the stereo team. Studio stereographer Layne Friedman, who was working with three separate conversion houses on the movie, provided the teams with a stereo brief for every single shot, ensuring consistency across the film and speeding up the stereo creation in the process. The results are beautifully detailed stereo sequences, such as the iconic scene in which Aurora is woken from her cursed sleep.
The PFW team used geometry-based head modeling for star Angelina Jolie’s character, generated from cyber scans of the star herself, to ensure the accuracy and consistency of sculpting for the main character. This was especially important due to Maleficent’s horns.
“It was more complex than the geo we have created for previous films,” said Oliver. “Rather than just concentrating on the facial features of the geometry, we also had to get the horns right - especially the interaction of the horns with each other as Maleficent turns her head. Once we had perfected the geo, it speeded up the process immeasurably, as we could apply it to all Maleficent shots and be secure in the knowledge that the depth relationships between her horns, her face and her pronounced cheek bones were all perfect.”
PFW Chief Creative Director and Co-Founder Merzin Tavaria concluded: “Working on Maleficent was an honor. Director Robert Stromberg has created a beautiful and thrilling cinematic experience, and we are proud to have partnered with Robert and Walt Disney Pictures to play our part in bringing Maleficent to the big screen.”
Maleficent opens in theaters on May 30, 2014.
RELEASE: May 30, 2014
Director: Robert Stromberg
Producers: Don Hahn, Joe Roth
Studio / Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
PFW Scope of Work: 3D conversion (WIP, tbd)
PFW Lead Facility: London
PFW Associate Team(s): Mumbai
Creative Director & Senior Stereographer: Richard Baker
Senior VP, Production, View-D™: Matthew Bristowe
Stereographer: Oliver Allen-Wielebnowski
View-D™ Producer: Valeria Andino
Chief Creative Director and Co-Founder: Merzin Tavaria
Senior Stereographer: Jimmy Philip
SVP, View-D™: Stephen Mascarenhas
Head of Production: Franklin Mascarenhas
Producer: Nixon Fernando
Production Manager: Annsh Patel
Technical Supervisor: Parminder Chadda
Pipeline Technical Director: Piyush Jain
Stereographers: Swapnil Shelar, Varion Pereria