November 08, 2011
“Hugo” concerns a 12-year-old orphan who lives in the walls of a Paris train station in 1930 and a mystery involving the boy, his late father and a robot.
I worked as a senior compositor on Hugo whilst at Pixomondo London. It was my first stereoscopic 3D feature film compositing gig (I had previously worked on Avatar, but only as a roto artist) and it was great to work on one that sets the bar so high. My learning curve on the show was huge, and I owe a debt of gratitude to VFX supervisor Alex Henning who’s patience and knowledge helped get me up to speed.
The level of attention given to how the shots were composed in 3D space was breath-taking; every artist had a 3D monitor and roughly a third of the time compositing each shot was spent nudging layers at sub-pixel levels so that everything sat correctly in depth. A huge number of subtle atmospheric layers were used – every single shot had hanging smoke, steam, snow and tiny floating particles that all had to correctly sit in front of / behind each other. The end result was worthwhile – it sits alongside Avatar as the best stereo 3D I’ve seen at the cinema. Even grumpy Mark Kermode, who is probably the world’s most outspoken critic of 3D movie-making, was won round and voted it one of his films of the year, begrudgingly admitted that the film has “enhanced by seeing it in 3D”.
You can click on the images on the right to see shot breakdowns from Pixomondo. About a dozen shots in there are ones I worked on, with 4 of them being shots I entirely completed.
Hugo just won the Oscar for it’s VFX work – a huge honour indeed!