Hugo – A Success Story Based On The Dawn Of VFX

Cannes Film Festival

M. Galas

 

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” “Transformers” and “Rango” were the big winners of the 10th Annual Visual Effects Awards, movies that had stunning digital creations and excellent motion capture techniques.  “Hugo,” the winner of the Best Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture relied on blending modern computer practices with camera tricks and practical effects that were created by the forefathers of cinematography.  Rob Legato, Visual Effects Supervisor on “Hugo” spoke with 411 Publishing about the planning that went into developing the film’s VFX blend.    

 

“We went and saw the very first movies ever made.  We went to Paris and had a screening of the newly restored material,” said Legato.  “With that inspiration we thought ‘You can’t do better, so let’s be moved by that and let’s find ways in our script that we can incorporate what the masters have done in the past.’  So any time we had a set up, the question was what can we do to make it harken back to that different time. The more subtle it was the more we liked it.  It was layering the complexity that many people may not ever get, but we get it, and we appreciate it.  It was a very magical movie experience.”

 

In addition to complicated visual effects, “Hugo” has been praised for its use of 3D.  Legato worked closely with director Martin Scorsese prior to shooting to ensure the 3D matched Scorsese’s intentions for his film.

 

“He was very meticulous, but he also really wanted to go for it.  He didn’t want to make a movie that was also in 3D, he wanted to make a 3D movie.  Every shot was designed to enhance the drama that you get from 3D, so nothing was left to chance, nothing was like “I’ll just throw the 3D on it, don’t worry about it,’” said Legato.  “We studied it on the set and with every shot he asked the question: ‘What would make it better, what would tell the story better using 3D?’”

 

After reflecting back over the years of working on the complicated combination of visual effects and 3D in the film, Legato was able to recall an effect that stood out for him.

 

“The one that is nearest and dearest to my heart was a request from Ben Kingsley who said ‘I want to do something Georges Meiles like but I don’t know what to do.’  Marty said ‘Come up with something and we can take a look at it.’  So I went back to the Georges Meiles library of material and found a shot.  What I thought would be great is if Ben Kingsley puts his top hat on, grabs a cigarette, bends down and when he comes back up he’s gone back in time as a young Georges.  It’s an in-camera trick and it’s basically what Georges would have done.  We made it as smooth as we could, it’s in 3D, and it’s a little more complicated than I’m describing it, but the net result is that it’s a jump cut.  It’s very subtle, and I’m very pleased about it.”

 

The winners of the Visual Effects Awards for 2012 are:

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture
Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri, Cyndi Ochs, Kurt Williams

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture
Hugo: Ben Grossmann, Alex Henning, Rob Legato, Karen Murphy

Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
Rango: Tim Alexander, Hal Hickel, Jacqui Lopez, Katie Lynch

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Miniseries, Movie, or Special
Inside the Human Body: Phil Dobree, Sophie Orde, Dan Upton

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Series
Terra Nova – Occupation & Resistance: Kevin Blank, Colin Brady, Adica Manis, Jason Zimmerman

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program
Game of Thrones – Winter is Coming: Lucy Ainsworth-Taylor, Angela Barson, Ed Bruce, Adam McInnes

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Live Action Commercial
Dior J’adore: Pascal Giroux, Julien Meesters, Stephane Pivron, Manuel Souillac

Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Commercial or Video Game Trailer
Diablo III: The Black Soulstone: Nicholas S. Carpenter, Graham Cunningham, Chris Thunig, Taka Yasuda

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project
Transformers the Ride: The Ultimate 3D Battle: Lori Arnold, Yanick Dusseault, Delio Tramontozzi, Jeff White

Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
Rise of the Planet of the Apes – Caesar: Daniel Barrett, Florian Fernandez, Matthew Muntean, Eric Reynolds

Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
Rango – Rango: Frank Gravatt, Kevin Martel, Brian Paik, Steve Walton

Outstanding Animated Character in a Broadcast Program or Commercial
Canal + The Bear: Laurent Creusot, Guillaume Ho, Olivier Mitonneau, Michal Nauzin

Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
Transformers: Dark of the Moon – 155 Wacker Drive: Giles Hancock, John Hanson, Tom Martinek, Scott Younkin

Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
Rango – Main Street Dirt: John Bell, Polly Ing, Martin Murphy, Russell Paul

Outstanding Created Environment in a Broadcast Program or Commercial
Game of Thrones – The Icewall: Markus Kuha, Dante Harbridge Robinson, Damien Mac, Fani Vassiadi

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
Hugo: Martin Chamney, Rob Legato, Adam Watkins, Fabio Zangla

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
Rango – The Dirt Saloon: Colin Benoit, Philippe Rebours, Nelson Sepulveda, Nick Walker

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Broadcast Program or Commercial
Gears of War 3 – Dust to Dust: Niles Heckman, Richard Morton, Vernon Wilbert Jr.

Outstanding Models in a Feature Motion Picture
Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Driller: Tim Brakensiek, Kelvin Chu, David Fogler, Rene Garcia

Outstanding Models in a Broadcast Program or Commercial
Boardwalk Empire – Georgia Peaches: Matthew Conner, Eran Dinur, David Reynolds, Szymon Weglarski

Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture
Captain America: The First Avenger – Skinny Steve: Casey Allen, Trent Claus, Brian Hajek, Cliff Welsh

Outstanding Compositing in a Broadcast Program or Commercial
Boardwalk Empire – Gimcrack & Bunkum: Anton Dawson. Eran Dinur, Austin Meyers, David Reynolds

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student Project
a.maize: Roman Kaelin, Falko Paeper, Florian Wittmann
The 10th Annual VES Awards will air exclusively on REELZCHANNEL Sunday, February 19 at 10pm ET/7pm PT with encore presentations throughout February. For more information on the VES Awards and the Visual Effects Society please visit www.visualeffectssociety.com

 

To view videos intereviews shot at the VES Awards, visit:

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