: Robocop

Oct 28, 2013

The Robocop was one of my favorite shows in Montreal. Much of that is likely nostalgia of course. It was the first project for the fledgling studio. We were a small team at that point. Maybe about 30-40 artists and production peeps combined. Chris Lawrence, our VFX supervisor was pretty busy in those days starting up the studio, so Carlos Monzon, Bruce Nelson and I had some freedom to make creative, technical and pipeline choices. It was a really great team and we all had a lot of fun together!

My main contribution to the show was working out the screen inserts for the ‘simulation’ sequence. We went through months and months of iterations trying to illustrate different technologies for the ‘projections screens’. In the end, the director wanted the film to be in the near future where they have ‘very high resolution displays with the same dynamic range as real life’. So, after about 5 months of look def, we more or less tracked the sub-shots into the screens, and added the interactive light to the rooms….which was, of course, slightly more complicated than it sounds actually:)

Anyway. Above is the hero shot I got to comp for the film. Babysat it for the 8-9 months while the director and studio made changes the story and timing to match various cuts. As it was a longer shot, each of these timing/editorial changes typically took several weeks to turn around. Board-a-matics, Previz, Blocking, Animation, Lighting, Rendering and Compositing. Each team member taking several good days to do their jobs. The time adds up quickly huh?

The other thing I really liked about Robocop was the excessive number of ‘Throw-Away’ shots. These are mission critical shots for the film, usually in action sequences. They can also sometimes be massive numbers of invisible set extensions, like window inserts or skyline changes. Buy typically, Throw-Away shots tend to be very short. Most hovering around the 12-36 frame range. Many artists detest working on them as they make for poor demo reel fodder. They can be hard to explain what one did because of the brevity of the shot…and typically…no audience member will be able to recall a 1/2 sec shot when the film is completed. Me on the other hand…….I love them! Frequently one can get away with creative murder on these super fast shots. Continuity is the main effort. But, if you’ve been stuck working on 3 hero shots for 6 months….being handed 7-10 of these super short throw-away shots, is like receiving a present. Banging out one shot per day is as satisfying as it is exciting. Version 000s sometimes getting into the final film! Ha!

My absolute favorite of all the throw-away shots was the Robocop Crotch shot. No one wanted to touch it for some reason. So I gladly picked it up. Who wouldn’t want that as a claim to fame?!

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