In this edition of our 'Close Up' series, we take a 'close up' look at the VFX behind Baz Luhrmann's magical adaptation of 'The Great Gatsby', featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire. PFW VFX Supervisor Jon Cowley in Vancouver, and Lee Sullivan (CG Supervisor) and Marc Jouveneau (VFX Supervisor) from our London facility, give an account of the VFX work PFW contributed to the movie, accompanied by exclusive breakdown footage.

Prime Focus World has delivered stereo VFX, 3D conversion and archive footage colorization for Baz Luhrmann's magical adaptation of The Great Gatsby, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire. The Warner Bros Pictures production will have the honor of opening the 66th Festival de Cannes on 15 May 2013, and is on general release in the US on May 10 2013, and six days later in the United Kingdom.

A contemporary adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel, set in prosperous Long Island in the 'Roaring Twenties', aspiring stockbroker Nick Carraway is lured into the captivating, lavish world of his millionaire neighbour Jay Gatsby; but soon enough, Carraway begins to see through the cracks of Gatsby's nouveau-riche existence - where obsession, impossible love, deceit and tragedy await.

PFW's Vancouver studio took the lead on the show, supported by the company’s facilities in London and Mumbai. Working closely with director Baz Luhrmann, PFW delivered around 150 stereo VFX shots across several key sequences for The Great Gatsby, including the exuberant 'Glam Party' sequence and the dramatic scene following the party in which Gatsby remembers meeting Daisy, revealing his emotional, vulnerable side.

The party was shot on a soundstage against blue-screen, and PFW were briefed to create the environment around the set, including CG fireworks, boats, distant shorelines and matte painted skies. The team also created the environment for the dramatic scene between Nick and Gatsby after the party, set in the pool area of Gatsby's mansion. A 'flashback' transitional device was required as Gatsby remembers his meeting with Daisy, for which PFW designed the beautiful 'into the clouds' transition which transports us back to Louisville a few years earlier.

"Every frame of a Baz Lurhmann film demands great composition and rich colour," said PFW Senior VFX Supervisor Jon Cowley. "We were delighted to help create the elegance and grandeur of Gatsby's party. A lot of the work was about making things look beautiful whilst controlling scale and scope - it needed to have a feeling of hyper-reality, but it also needed to play convincingly in both a 2D and 3D world."

Although the majority of the film was shot in stereo, PFW was also called in to deliver 3D conversion for over 100 shots.

"Baz had personally shot footage on set with a DSLR, and he wanted to include some of this footage he had captured in the film," said PFW Senior Stereographer Ben Murray. "Of course, this footage was lower resolution than the rest, so we treated the converted DSLR footage to blend it in with the native stereo 35mm footage."

"Baz had also discovered a selection of World War One and 1920's archive footage, which not only required conversion to 3D, but also colorization, to match the vivid and saturated tones of the rest of the show," added Rohan Desai, Head of View-D™ Production, Vancouver, “It was actually quite a unique request. It started with 7 'quick' shots, but Baz was so happy with the results we ended up colorizing and converting 30 archive shots in total. All colourization and conversion work was undertaken in Mumbai, with depth and style frames created and signed off in North America."

"Prime Focus World's work on The Great Gatsby is a superb example of our global structure," concluded Jon Cowley. "The creative direction and client contact was led from Vancouver, but the work involved artists from three of our global facilities. We're immensely proud of our work on this show: we not only delivered beautiful pictures - we delivered them in a beautiful manner."


RELEASE: May 10, 2013

Director: Baz Luhrmann
Producers: Lucy Fisher, Catherine Knapman, Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Douglas Wick
Studio / Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

PFW VFX Supervisor: Jon Cowley
PFW VFX Producer: Darren Bell
PFW Conversion Supervisor: Ben Murray
PFW Conversion Producer: Rohan Desai
PFW Scope of Work: VFX, 150 shots
3D Conversion, 93 shots
 Period Colorization
PFW Lead Facility: Vancouver
PFW Associate Team(s): London & Mumbai



PFW Great Gatsby brochure

PFW Great Gatsby brochure

The Great Gatsby PFW VFX Breakdown Reel