There in Spirit

Last year we posted a link to an article about the post production and VFX on The Spirit, the new Frank Miller film released in the US in December.

Now there's another article in Studio Daily that goes a bit more in depth into the usage of cineSync on the film (actually cineSync Pro) in coordinating the work of 10 different vendors worldwide.

In speaking about the process, VFX Supervisor Stu Maschwitz and VFX Producer Nancy St John had the following to say:

[The] effects were created at 10 VFX companies in four countries (U.S., Canada, Australia and Mexico). In addition to The Orphanage, the VFX facilities were Digital Dimension (376 shots); Fuel FX (310 shots); Riot (235 shots); Entity FX (170 shots); Look Effects (62 shots); Furious FX (75 shots); Rising Sun Pictures (73 shots); Ollin Studio (37 shots) and Cinesoup (54 shots).

One of the key pieces of software that made the entire system work was cineSync, a software tool from Rising Sun Research (RSR) for remote collaboration and review. The disparate parties were able to watch the same QuickTime files and, more important, draw on the frames and scribble notes. “We turned it into full interactive concept art sessions happening live on the other side of the planet,” said Maschwitz. “At the end, cineSync saves all your drawings so it becomes direct reference.”

St. John agreed that the cineSync tool was invaluable. “It’s also a great tool to paint on, not merely to illustrate a specific issue within a shot, but to actually paint a new frame or several frames,” she said. “This is where Stu took this tool to new heights, as it allowed him to paint on a shot and create a look frame good enough for a vendor to take and imitate. He used the tool so well that sometimes vendors joked that they might just deliver back the look frame.” Maschwitz also noted that director Miller also got involved in hands-on painting.

The Orphanage team worked closely with RSR throughout the film to refine control of the paint tools. “This [use of cineSync] brought us that much closer to a finished concept and advanced the speed of our production greatly,” said St. John. “The ability to communicate with clients and vendors efficiently and in a manner that was verbally and visually comprehensible was paramount.”

Though the VFX facilities were in locales around the world, the dailies process became an intimate environment. “Some of these VFX facilities only know each other through the cineSync sessions,” said Maschwitz. “But it was enough and it felt very personal.”

To read more, including some more information on the integration between DI and VFX in the post production of The Spirit, you can check out the full article here.