LOS ANGELES — Ingenuity Studios (www.ingenuitystudios.com), which has locations in LA, New York and Vancouver, BC, served as the primary visual effects house on Wander Darkly, a Lionsgate feature from writer/director Tara Miele. Starring Sienna Miller and Diego Luna, the film follows a traumatic accident that leaves a couple in a surreal state of being. By reliving fond recollections from the beginning of their romance, while also navigating the overwhelming truths of their present, they must rediscover the love that binds them together.
Ingenuity Studios helped bring pivotal transitional scenes to life for the film, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2020 and is now available on DVD. The studio completed roughly 120 shots that appear throughout the film.
A big part of the film are the transitions that take place after a car accident, where Sienna Miller's Adrienne character looks back at memories from her life. Visual effects played a major role in all of the transitions, and they begin within the first ten minutes of the film. In one transition, water rushes onto the garage floor. That water then becomes a shot in the middle of the ocean, with a seamless bridge between the two locations.
Another transition begins with a nighttime neighborhood street location in front of a house, where the camera circles around a street lamp. It then reveals the Urban Light installation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where hundreds of restored street lamps from the 1920s and 1930s are presented.
For another sequence, set on a Los Angeles rooftop at night, the camera tilts up toward a group of trees and then down into the middle of a thick wooded forest.
"There is a certain cleverness to the smooth but revelatory transitions we created to propel the story along, in support of creative camera work,” notes David Lebensfeld, owner and VFX supervisor at Ingenuity Studios. “We fool the eye a bit when the audience thinks they're looking at water rushing onto a garage floor and all of the sudden, they're seeing the middle of the ocean, or when a singular street light blossoms into the LACMA Urban Light installation and its hundreds of antique street lamps.”
Lebensfeld says the studio worked on this film throughout the course of a year, maintaining close contact with director Tara Miele as she planned for the best way to achieve a certain look or emotional impact.
“This is the second film that we've worked with Tara on, and we really believe in her voice as a storyteller with much more to say. She is incredibly passionate about this personal film, and really about the power of film."
The Ingenuity team used a combination of Nuke, SynthEyes, V-Ray, Maya and Houdini to pull off the effects. In addition to Lebensfeld, the Ingenuity team included owner/VFX supervisor Grant Miller, producer Kieley Culbertson and producer Kyn Murphy.