For Eli Roth’s The House With a Clock in its Walls, VFX Supervisor Louis Morin had his work cut out for him. Director Roth was keen to maintain a “practical FX” look to the film, but with some very challenging sequences. Morin had to develop a look for the film which fit the director’s vision while being allowing CG to handle some of the trickier elements. He recently sat down with Art of VFX to discuss how that collaboration worked.
From the article:
How was the collaboration with director Eli Roth?
Eli is a true gentleman and brought to the table is “horror film” expertise to the table with the idea of doing a lot with practical FX. This being said, very quickly he has embraced the VFX workflow methodology. We worked closely together with Rogier Stoffers our DOP to design the shots and visual approach. Jon Hutman had also a strong imprint on the design of the movie. This movie was a great opportunity for me, I’ve been wanting to develop for a long time a visual FX approach embracing older technology and way of doing FX. For this I resorted to all dept to participate in developing a vintage style of FX. Eli embraced this practical look as we both knew that a great deal would end up full CG.
How did you organize the work between you two and with your VFX Producer?
I’ve been working with Annie Godin, my VFX producer for so many years! Our workflow has this embedded synchronicity, this being said we always improve it from one show to other. I usually like to split the work based on the specialty of the VFX houses. We have developed relationships with many companies over the years and but we are always looking out for new talents. On this project we had Rodeo FX, Hybride, Folks VFX, Alchemy 24 and Mavericks. A lot of vendors, lots of cineSync sessions and a lot of data to manage.
Can you tell us how you choose the various VFX vendors?
I always choose the vendor based on their talent and expertise, I also sometimes give a vendor the opportunity to achieve new challenges based on a good experience from the past.
How did you split the work amongst these vendors?
Rodeo had many animated sequences, I’ve worked for so many years with Alexandre Lafortune that it felt a sure bet he would come through those complex sequences; Automatons, Book flying, Griffin, Constellation sequence and the end sequence with Baby Jonathan.
Hybride had also many complex scenes all the character transformations, the city rejuvenating lightning zap sequence, the CG rat, the whole Secret Room sequence, the stained glass window and WW2 sequence.
Folks VFX were eager to work on the pumpkin sequence which turned out to be a colossal endeavor.
Alchemy handled several beauty shots and several magical tricks. Maverick handled the LZ boy and Isaac’s living dead.
Can you tell us more about your collaboration with their VFX supervisors?
As always I like to work in a collaborative fashion, based on the director’s vision, we develop together the approach, the look of the VFX and follow with them the progress. I pushing them to hit the sweet spot, where we know we have the right look. As always all our VFX vendors are motivated and wanting to push the envelope to get the best result possible, regardless of the constraint of time and budget we had on this film.
The vendors are all around the world. How did you proceed to follow their work?
Vendors were all from Montreal except for Maverick based in Toronto. To manage a multi-vendor show you need top notch coordination and my crew was spot on. Our workflow is Shotgun based, coordinated with all vendors who submit playlists received on a daily basis with their notes addressed, then we use cineSync to discuss the shots and all this filed in Shotgun. Thanks to Vicky Daneau, Yentle Ansay and Jason Tremblay my amazing production crew!
The rest of the interview, which includes lots of information on how certain shots were achieved, can be found at Art of VFX