Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is as big and spectacular as you would expect from the latest entry to J K Rowling’s wizarding universe. In order to pull off both the massive scale and the intricate detail, VFX Supervisors Tim Burke and Christian Manz had to involve major VFX vendors from all over the world, including Framestore in London and Montreal, Method Studios, Rodeo FX, Image Engine and DNEG as well as previs work from The Third Floor and Nvizage and LIDAR scanning by Clear Angle Studios.
As always, wrangling that number of facilities across a number of countries and timezones and trying to create 1450 difficult shots could have been an onerous task – but Burke’s familiarity with director David Yates (their 7th collaboration) and the production’s rock solid pipeline made things more streamlined.
In a recent interview with Art of VFX, Burke and Manz talk about that pipeline, some of the challenges of the production and how cineSync helped handle the international communication.
From the interview:
How was this new collaboration with director David Yates?
Tim Burke // As always collaborating with David was great, this was the seventh film I have done with him over the last 13 years, so we have a very good working relationship. At the beginning of pre-production David challenged both Christian and I to really try and push the creativity and originality for the VFX for this film to a new level, he wanted us to think outside the box and really have fun with the creatures and sequences. We both embraced this challenge and hopefully the results speak for themselves.
What are the main changes on the VFX side since the first Fantastic Beasts movie?
Tim Burke // There were no major changes on how we worked on this movie, the crew were not all the same but our approach to design, previs, postvis and finally completing the movie was very similar, but more streamlined and efficient.
Can you tell us how you choose the various VFX vendors?
Tim Burke // Mainly through established trusted working relationships, playing to the strengths of each individual facility.
Christian Manz // It was great to work with a lot of the same teams and artists again and build upon what we achieved the first time around.
Can you tell us more about your collaboration with their VFX supervisors?
Tim Burke // It was a normal process, no different to any other film, I like to involve the supervisors as much as possible. But as we design and direct the film through our previs and postvis process they are often finishing off working on other shows, so when we move fully into post with the facilities I try and spend as much time with them as possible. The creature and asset builds start earlier at the facility than the shot production, but the last 5 months of post were spent at the facilities one to one with the supervisors.
Christian Manz // Most of the supervisors visited us during filming – it’s always good for them to see at first hand the challenges that lie ahead. Even though we didn’t turn over shots until after the director’s cut there was a lot of collaboration with the various facilities during postvis – for the Grindelwald escape sequence that opens the film, for example, we shared layouts and cameras with Image Engine and vice versa to make sure that the New York build they were doing concentrated on the correct parts of the city. The constant communication with Martyn Culpitt and his team was key to the success of the final shots.
The vendors are all around the world. How did you proceed to follow their work?
Tim Burke // It’s just a normal process, one I’ve done for nearly 20 years, you review the work in their own time zones via cineSync, or in the case of London facilities, in person. When things are looking close to final we get the EXRs sent over and review them digitally projected with David.
Christian Manz // I visited Canada only once during the whole production – because we were working with the same people again we already had established a way of working which made cineSync reviews very efficient. It was more important for us to be available for David in the cutting rooms as the film evolved.
The rest of the article, which includes terrific detail on the creation of various sequences and new creatures, can be found at Art of VFX.