Sony Imageworks Takes Us On The Yellow Brick Road to Oz

By Debra Kaufman, Creative COW Magazine

How did the man behind the green screen become the Wizard of Oz? That’s the tale that the latest Walt Disney movie, Oz the Great and Powerful, tells, directed by Sam Raimi with James Franco as the eponymous small town magician who ends up in the Emerald City.

Whereas MGM’s 1939 Wizard of Oz wowed viewers with a transition to color when Dorothy enters the kingdom of Oz, this prequel ups the ante with photography in native stereoscopic 3D and an array of spectacular digital visual effects including sophisticated character work. Sony Pictures Imageworks completed over 1,100 shots that appear in the final film, including all of the CG character shots and CG environments. At Imageworks, the movie leveraged tens of thousands of render cores, multiple petabytes of data and thousands of unique assets to create the stylized world of Oz..

Of course, I had to see the movie in 3D, and when I left the theatre, I was still in the land of Oz, in a good way, still feeling the effects of total immersion while I adjusted to planet earth (well, the Landmark Theatre). As the filmmakers — and Sony Imageworks — intended, I was bedazzled. I spoke to Sony Imageworks Senior VFX Supervisor Scott Stokdyk and Animation Supervisor Troy Saliba about their work on the movie.

“Every 3D movie needs to find its own language and tone,” says Stokdyk, who has worked with Raimi on all three Spider-Man movies, winning a 2004 Oscar for Best Visual Effects for Spider-Man 2. One of the challenges was that, because Disney doesn’t have rights to the 1939 movie, the filmmakers, including Imageworks, had to base everything on the original Baum artwork and books.

With regard to the movie’s native stereoscopy, Stokdyk notes that, even when Raimi works in 2D, the director likes depth. “He loves things coming towards camera,” says Stokdyk. “We embraced 3D with lots of volume and depth and we weren’t afraid to have things come towards camera and break frame. It wasn’t meant to be a delicate 3D but an enjoyable rich full 3D experience.”

He reveals that, “there was talk initially about shooting the first part in 2D, but we looked at it in B&W and everyone agreed it was interesting to see B&W in 3D — and this was before Frankenweenie came out. We dialed back the 3D in the B&W part, but we still tried to have fun with it.” [more...]

Source: Creative COW

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