UCLU Film Society Q&A with Framestore

UCLU Film Society Q&A with Framestore

Abi Talabi discusses the highlights of this Film Society event

We had the great privilege of having two members of Framestore, a visual effects company based in London, speak for the UCLU Film Society on the 16th January 2015. Framestore is a BAFTA and Oscar award winning creative studio that offers a range of visual effects, animation and production services. Most recently, they have worked on films such as Paddington, Guardians of the Galaxy and the to be released sci-fi film, Jupiter Ascending. We were joined by visual effects supervisor Richard Graham and Head of Systems development Mark Hills, who spoke about working at Framestore, the technicalities in producing visual effects and animation, as well as expressing their thoughts on role of visual effects in films today.

Framestore’s strengths:

Richard: “Lots of companies around the world have specialisms… we’ve been known for doing furry creatures. We recently did Paddington bear just to cement that idea in people’s minds [laughs]… but we also did Gravity which kind of helped us branch into other stuff like blowing things up.”

Working on Gravity:

Richard: “Gravity was a bit unusual. We got engaged to animate the film before it was shot – we actually got engaged to animate the whole film before it was green lit.”

Mark: “Go back to ten years ago, people on set didn’t acknowledge visual effects, they’d acknowledge special effects but they didn’t acknowledge that once they’d done all that shooting they’d have to take it away… Gravity was a huge film first for being involved so early on. In fact the way Gravity bore some similarity was like an animated film that was made with great level of detail on a computer even before and during the shoot.”

Richard: “That’s becoming the norm now, for visual effects to be acknowledged as huge portion of the budget. Our job is about making film making more efficient”

On how different visual effect companies work on the same film/characters:

Richard: “I worked on Iron Man 3 and we were handing stuff over to Weta which they were putting into their shot, we basically just ignore their effect and finish ours. It wasn’t as simple as they were doing one character and we were doing ours.”

“With guardians of the galaxy, the rocket raccoon was done by us, the tree was done by Moving Pictures Company and we had to swap assets which was really hard”

Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel Films

Mark: “Scary. If you could keep the stuff in layers – if it’s just a fact that this stuff will be on one layer – that’s the old school way of how two companies work on the same shot. Okay, these characters have to interact, now they’re physically touching or just simply because the light from one was affecting another. But that’s what you need to make something look realistic, it’s a nightmare.”

The future for visual effects in film:

Mark: “There was a time when we couldn’t really do fire water explosions you know and maybe in like the last ten years we’ve seen those develop. Less things that have never been done before. In a world where you can do pretty much whatever you want, the next kind of thing that the studios want to try and do it to do it more efficiently. More and more for less. Now we can do stuff if you have that infinite wallet we are looking for but what can we do next?”

Featured image: AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures

Abi Talabi

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