Our "Preparing for VFX" feature this month focuses on how
visual effects supervisors/artists help directors save time and money — and
help them get a better result — by preparing for all possibilities during a
There are some who see it as yet another person to deal with
on "their" set, but Glenn Lazzaro, director/creative director at Crossroads
Television in NYC, isn't one of them. "I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want
to have extra support around them. I'm a big collaborator and I love having
everybody on the set help me with everything. It's just another person to
bounce ideas off of."
He points to a rebranding project Crossroads did earlier
this year for HGTV, which featured some of the network's on-air talent; it was
a mix of live action and graphics. "We shot the stars of their shows on sets we
built and had them interacting in homes in interesting visual ways," he says.
In one of the pieces, Candice Olsen, host of Devine Design
on HGTV, is sitting with a big piece of plexiglass in front of her, sketching
the layout of a room with a grease pencil. Behind her, the empty room becomes
populated with furniture, lamps and carpeting as she draws them on the glass.
"It was very difficult because when she's writing, the
camera is facing her, so she has to write in reverse," explains Lazzaro. "We
had to lock camera, set up places where a certain piece of furniture would go,
mark it precisely, see her draw, erase the board, move the furniture, have her
draw it, put the furniture back in, shoot the plate…" Oy.
He says having VFX director/Flame artist Steve Zourntos and
creative director Ders Hallgren from Crossroads (www.crossroadstelevision.com)
sister company Headlight Design + Visual Effects on set made it a very
"As a director and creative director, my job is to be
incredibly optimistic about what can be accomplished in-camera," says Lazzaro,
who comes from an editorial background and knows what can be accomplished in
post. "But I also know that if you do it in-camera first, you've got a better
chance of making it happen."
In some instances, what he thought could be done in-camera,
in the reality of the moment — with the crew and lighting, etc. — didn't work.
"You can't really do it until you have everything there," he says. "There were
cases where we said, 'We can't do this because we want to do that later, and
that won't work later if we do it now.' So we put our heads together and came
up with a different way to do it." On the spot, they came up with plates and
shot mattes, "so when it went into compositing it would all work. I couldn't
have done it without those guys there," he concludes. "I was thinking in terms
of the camera and not at all of the options they have at their disposal."