For A Cure for Wellness, VFX house Double Negative were tasked with creating a range of photo-real elements and environments to seamlessly match with the spectacular location cinematography. DNeg’s VFX Supervisor Tom Proctor recently chatted to Art of VFX about how the three different DNeg facilities stayed in constant communication with each other and with director Gore Verbinski.
From the interview:
How did you get involved on this show?
I came on board as principal photography was wrapping up. Prior to me joining the show, Richard Bain was the on set VFX supervisor. Gore was keen to bring in a supe for the post who was intimate with the workflow and team within the facility.
How was the collaboration with director Gore Verbinski?
It was a very intense and ultimately rewarding experience! When I first met him at the tail end of the shoot in Berlin, the vision he conveyed to me was thorough and detailed. During the post process, when my team and I were in London and he was in California, we were in constant communication. We used cineSync for reviews. I always appreciated his manner and wit in conveying nuance. He has a deep interest in the craft of VFX, in the tools and techniques, and having used VFX extensively on past projects he was extremely keen to be informed about all the latest developments. I also have to say: although it was challenging at times, I really loved the experience of working with a director with such high standards.
How did you organize the work at Double Negative?
We split our work amongst three teams. There was one group devoted to the climactic final scenes with Volmer and the fire at the Institute. A second team handled the car crash, the train, the opening shots of Manhattan, and all of the eels. And our third team dealt with the spectacular vistas and scenic shots of the Institute in the Alps.
The surrounding Alps are beautiful. Can you tell us more about their creation?
There were an incredible number of stills taken of the Swiss Alps that we used as the basis for our matte paintings. It’s tricky to get convincing scale and terrain if you find yourself picking and choosing bits of one mountain from one image, and bits from another, so we tried to use entire mountains as much as possible. Gore wanted to stay clear of Middle Earth! We also tried to stay true to the levels of atmosphere in the plates for, say, the scene of Hannah and Lockhart at the pool to keep it organic and convincing.
What references and indications did you received for the Castle and the Alps?
There were a few concept comps that Richard Bain had roughed together to get a steer from Gore; these were very helpful, too. Gore was always clear with his turnover of the shots – annotating in the cineSync sessions with big W shaped mountains where he wanted them.
The rest of the interview can be found at Art of VFX