There aren’t enough Spy movies being made these days – The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

There aren’t enough spy movies being made these days, so its good to see the latest trailer for Guy Ritchie’s Man From U.N.C.L.E. appear on the web yesterday.

The story is set in 1963 – Bond’s From Russia With Love came out in 1963 – which suggests an abundance of opportunities to play on the designs and style and costumes of that period. It will be interesting to see what Production Designer Oliver Scholl delivers. There isn’t anything like MFU on his CV, but Edge of Tomorrow was a fine looking film, so lets see.

Opportunities for digital sets and set extensions should be plentiful too, so I look forward to tracking the behind-the-scenes revelations from the various different effects houses that are involved.

A Bond Film – The one sequel/prequel/re-make I will look forward to. First featurette for Spectre released

Eon have just released a first featurette for Spectre, in which Daniel Craig returns as James Bond. In it, Production Designer Dennis Gassner speaks about the challenge of following Skyfall, and makes reference to the stunning location shoot in Solden, Austria – “We are going to continue the history of the Bond films, making things that are exciting for the audience to look at and what could be more exciting than to be on top of the world.”

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From December 2014 until February 2015 Sölden will be one of the locations where filming for the new James Bond Movie will take place.

“SPECTRE will be released on November 6th, 2015”

Trying something new: A 1:6 scale miniature set, with 3D tracking and digital extensions…

Having worked exclusively in digital formats for the past 15 years, I have recently been making a concerted effort to resurrect some of my practical design skills. Around five years ago, I started to sketch more frequently, as I began to take on more of a design lead on projects. It proved a great complement to pixels.

More recently, I have looked to expand upon this positive experience and started to explore the use of miniatures in filmmaking. The shots below are of a miniature I have been developing for a sequence of shots based on a snowy environment I have designed. Two faces of a section of a building have been constructed, and set within a snow covered landscape. This miniature set design will ultimately be extended through the use of digital set extensions and 3D tracking.

Shot of the in-progress, 1:6 scale, miniature set, featuring snow and ice effects
A shot of the miniature including snow and ice effects.

The shell of the building was made out of foamcore, which was then clad in balsa. The balsa was ridiculously pristine when first applied, but has since been aged and weathered with heavily diluted ink washes. The snow is a combination of polystyrene base, on top of which, model railway snow effects and marble dust (to add sparkle) have been applied. The icicles are made by applying model railway water effect gel to waxed paper. Once dried, they are glued to the eaves of the building. It’s not finished yet, but so far, it’s proved to be a hugely, enjoyable indulgence.

Detail shot of 1:6 scale miniature set, featuring snow and ice effects
Detail of the miniature in it’s current stage of development.

As with any miniature, depth of field has proved problematic. The only way to counter this, has been to dramatically stop down. Testing has shown f16 to be the absolute maximum, but to achieve optimum results, I am going to need to reduce the aperture even further. The direct consequence of this, is that I then need ridiculous levels of light.

I’m currently looking at stop motion techniques to achieve small apertures, with less light and longer exposures. This approach will allow for better digital environments through better depth of field and improved image quality and resolution compared to video capture.

I wanted to post these before Fortitude is screened tomorrow, as I started work on this last Autumn but business has been very busy and limited the opportunities to work on these kinds of personal projects.

Work schedules permitting, I’m hoping to have the first sequence completed by the Spring

An earlier shot of the miniature set, prior to adding snow and ice effects.
Shot of the miniature prior to the application of snow and ice effects.

 

Elysium FX: A micro featurette for Wired by FX Guide

A very concise micro featurette by FX Guide, for Wired, that looks at the push to get back to doing more effects in-camera. Whilst the reviews for the films story have been reserved (listen to Mark Kermodes review for BBC Radio 5), there is no denying that visually, it looks stunning. Despite being introduced as a look at the return to in-camera effects, the miniatures used in the movie flash by too quickly. At the same time, arguably the showpiece of the whole film is the Elysium Torus, but that’s a CG effect. Nevertheless, it’s not a bad way to waste 3 minutes on a Friday.