According to Kater, the idea for a dedicated division came about as a result of the boom in trailer business, increasingly driven by the direct-to-video market.
"Along with a lot of design and animation for trailers, we found that we were being asked to do 15 to 20 shots a month of removal and replacement work," he explains. "We saw a market for this kind of image processing that would enable us to easily handle many times that amount and bring in clients who might ordinarily take these shots to a post house or large effects studio at a far greater cost. We can provide clients with a quick, economical turnaround, sometimes the same day, which is something that others will do, but at rush costs."
S4 VFX has completed shots on theatrical trailers for Assault on Precinct 13, Saw II, Dodgeball, Jet Li's Unleashed, Big Momma's House 2, along with creative graphics work on the home video releases of The Day After Tomorrow, Robots and DVD reveals for the Batman Anthology and Fantastic Four DVD releases.
Clear MPAA restrictions on trailer content for the general public are driving the need for object removal and replacement, Kater notes. "For instance, if the original scene shows a gun being pointed at someone, or shows blood on someone's face, MPAA regulations dictate that the gun, the blood, and in some cases, an entire person be replaced by something else or removed entirely." Kater adds that other undesirable shots might include aircraft in peril, images of explosions, knives, box cutters, intense sexual content, lewd gestures, extreme violence and the like.
"The dilemma facing a trailer house is that they naturally want to select scenes that are really dynamic and action packed, these are the scenes that usually contain the highest level of violence or sexual content," he says. "Our job is to address the story and offer creative solutions using VFX techniques that directly address our client's need for removal and replacement work. Additionally, as a creative animation studio, we offer a creative fix that far outshines the typical blur or dark spot associated with most MPAA fixes."
Pictured: Before and after wound removals for the DVD release of Underworld. (Photo credit Sony Pictures Entertainment).