Bits & Pieces: Wallenda short is big on VFX
Issue: April 1, 2012

Bits & Pieces: Wallenda short is big on VFX

LOS ANGELES — Rareform Pictures ( completed work on a VFX-heavy short about Karl Wallenda and his first high-wire performance. Wallenda is currently making its way through the festival circuit.

In order to deliver the project in time for the festivals, Rareform Pictures married education and film production methods to create a learning environment where students could quickly be trained to do quality visual effects work. V.W. Schiech, director/co-founder of Rareform, pulled together a core team of producers to pull off the project, which was shot over five days on a greenscreen stage at New Deal Studios.

The team captured footage using two Red One cameras. Both Avid Xpress and Apple Final Cut Pro were used for the early edits, but limitations in working with R3D files as well as exporting 2K and DPX files made the studio ultimately switch to Adobe CS5 Premiere Pro.

“Wallenda was ambitious from the beginning,” says Scheich, who served as director/writer/producer. “It was shot against a greenscreen, required distinctive CG backgrounds — a German tavern, a circus tent and an opera house — and had over 250 VFX shots. To ensure we got the most out of our shoot days, we spent a great deal of time doing previs. Because we were shooting in a confined environment, FrameForge Previz Studio 3D allowed me to take previously storyboarded shots and experiment with them using real world camera rigs and lens packages.

This meant that I not only had the look of the shot from the boards but could determine how to shoot them as well. I discovered that some angles would be possible to shoot while others would need adjustments. Realizing these details in pre-production saved us valuable time and money.”

The student contributors are part of Rareform’s artist-in-residence program, developed by Uyen Le, which reaches out to students from all over the country, including CSUN, the Art Institute of Los Angeles and San Bernardino, OTIS, Gnonom School, the Art Center Pasadena, SCAD, SMC, LMU, and USC. The students received supervision, mentoring and feedback to hone their skills and find gainful employment.