NEW YORK — The Phosphene (www.phosphenefx.com) visual effects team recently completed work on more than 80 shots for Young Adult, a new dark comedy-drama, starring Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson and Patton Oswalt.
Directed by Jason Reitman, the film centers around Theron’s character, who returns to claim an old flame - even though he’s married and a new father. Oswalt tries to serve as the voice of reason.
Creative director/VFX supervisor John Bair and VFX producer Vivian Connolly lead the Phosphene team, which served as the only effects vendor on the film.
“The most complex VFX sequence in the film involves Patton Oswalt’s leg. In an intimate scene with Charlize Theron, his severely deformed limb, the result of a brutal high school beating, is exposed. Because of the sensitive nature of the reveal, the leg absolutely had to feel 100 percent real.” explains Connolly.
During production, John Bair and Phosphene’s lead digital artist Aaron Raff were on set to place tracking markers on Patton's leg.
“We began design tests early on to determine the look of the leg,” notes Raff. “Extensive medical research allowed us to make sure the deformity was as medically accurate as possible. In post, we stabilized and isolated Patton's leg movement and began applying medically appropriate scarring and texture to the skin. Using warping tools, we redefined the outline of the leg to properly portray the loss of muscle and bone density, maintaining the disfigured shape from every angle as both the actor and the hand held camera moved freely throughout the scene. Because the shot was close-up and intimate, the leg had to move realistically as Patton rolled around on the bed. Since we shrunk the limb quite a bit, we also had to recreate everything that was under his leg as he moved on the bed’s surface including ruffled blankets and other items.”
Another scene between Theron and Wilson required heavy greenscreen replacement with the addition of panoramic windows television monitors.
“We decided the best approach was to use the Flame for this scene because it was over 50 shots that had to be turned around quite quickly and continuity was of the utmost importance,” explains Blair. “Under the circumstances, being able to pull quick keys and have quick reviews for continuity checks made the process much easier.”
In yet another sequence, Theron drives her car hard into a parking spot and has a comical fender bender, which required a lot of cleanup and rig removal to make it feel authentic.
The Phosphene creative team included compositors Scott Winston and Connie Conrad, Flame artist Peter Amante, and compositing intern Andrew Yates. The studio used The Foundry’s Nuke X, Adobe After Effects CS5, Autodesk Flame and PCs running Windows 7 64-bit in the execution of this project.
Deluxe in NYC was responsible for the digital intermediate and lab processing.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.