[Shout out to Nigel!]

(Source: VisualFxBlog.comClick here for full interview)

Transformers marks your second time as sequence supervisor at ILM. What sequences did you work on?

I was sequence supe on the Scorponok desert attack sequence (along with Nigel Sumner), the Blackout attack sequence that begins the film (along with Leandro Estebecorena), and the end battle sequence (along with Nigel and David Hisanaga). The end battle included the last fight between Optimus and Megatron, Blackout getting lazered and destroyed, Starscream attacking the F-22’s, and a few other shots here and there. The shots I personally did were pretty much in those sequences, too, and a few others. It was nice to have a lot of variety– some daylight desert work, nighttime work, aerial work, and urban battle work.

As a sequence supervisor, how many shots did you composite yourself and what were some of the ones we might remember from the movie?

“How many” is a tough question. Let’s say ‘a lot’ (laughs). One of the first ones I did for the show, in fact, one of the first shots finalled, was the initial Blackout transformation– the helicopter transformation that opens the film. Mike Conte handled the lighting and comping of the shot of the chopper’s blades retracting, and Jeff Grebe and I did the big dolly shot of the transformation. It was not only a very complicated CG shot (I mean, the transformation animation is phenomenal and beyond belief), but it was a tough environment reconstruction as well. You see, the real helicopter was in the shot the entire time, so I had to do a full plate reconstruction, effectively erasing the helicopter from the shot. It was made that much more difficult because of the dolly move, as well as all the search lights, fog, smoke, and all of the muzzle flashes from the soldiers who have opened fire on the robot, as well as the airfield, jeeps and soldiers behind the chopper. It was really fun laying in all of those spark hits, though. Jeff did an amazing job lighting the chopper, which is all CG throughout the entire shot.

Sounds like you had your hands full. What was your typical day at ILM like?

I personally like to get in early, and make sure my overnight renders worked as expected, with no black frames or goofy errors. Depending on the complexity of the comp, I might be able to squeak out another version of the shot before td/comp dailies at 9am. On a big show like this, dailies could take well over an hour. We look at all the work-in-progress, sequence by sequence in one of our screening rooms. Our effects supervisor Scott Farrar and our associate supervisor Russell Earl then talk about the shots with the artists– and it’s good to have as many people in the room who have similar shots, so everybody can hear specific comments.

For example, if you’re lighting a Bumblebee shot, it’s good to hear the comments from Russ and Scott about other Bumblebee shots, so you have a good idea how to light yours. Every shot is different, but it’s really smart to pay attention to what the supervisors are looking for.

After dailies, I usually check in with TD’s and other compositors, and make sure they know what the day’s priorities are for their shots. Somehow, before lunch, I need to get some takes of my own shots out. After lunch, I’ll work on my shots as much as I can, do some quick rounds, hit a few meetings, and if things are really busy, we’ll attend nightlies (a mini-version of dailies). And before going home, I have to really pay attention to my own shots, because you really want to utilize overnight render time to its fullest. I run as many test frames as possible, to make sure nothing is broken. Just before leaving, I’ll set up my shots to render, and cross my fingers that everything works out okay. Then the next morning, I check on those renders, and it all starts again.

(Click here for full interview)

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