3D World

TWO MINDS ONE BODY

Fleis­cher Ruben film­maker with sym­bi­otic Franklin gets while Trevor Hogg su­per­vi­sor Paul ef­fects and vis­ual Venom… of the mak­ing dis­cussing

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Apostapoc­a­lyp­tic pro­duc­ing fter hor­ror Zom­bieland com­edy drama and crime Gang­ster Squad, Ruben film­maker of into the realm Fleis­cher en­ters Venom. with su­per­heroes par­a­sitic alien A volatile in­hab­its other sym­biote that in­ves­tiga­tive a host in be­ings finds (Tom Ed­die Brock jour­nal­ist un­cov­ers the he Hardy) as sur­vival­ist plans of a ne­far­i­ous the Life known as cor­po­ra­tion run by Carl­ton Foun­da­tion Ahmed). “It’s Drake (Riz char­ac­ter, al­ways about best cast­ing the each ac­tors for role and pro­vid­ing their they can do a space where to learn I was ex­cited best work. ef­fects as­pect of vis­ual the whole done an en­tirely as I had never film. It’s be­fore in a char­ac­ter CG in my set of skills a whole new film­maker and is a tool­box as part of mod­ern such a huge film­mak­ing.”

A core con­flict is the on­go­ing strug­gle be­tween ex­tremely dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties seek­ing dom­i­na­tion within the same body. “They’re two sides of a coin,” states Fleis­cher. “Venom is an adul­ter­ated Id of Ed­die Brock and is an alien that you have to learn how to train and have be­have ap­pro­pri­ately in our civil­i­sa­tion. It’s a buddy movie in a weird way. We talked a lot about 48 Hours and Mid­night Run where there are these two op­pos­ing char­ac­ters that come to­gether on a jour­ney, forge a re­la­tion­ship, and each leave a lit­tle changed by the other.” Venom is also part of the rogues’ gallery for a fa­mous Wall Crawler, but “we de­cided to make it all about Ed­die and Venom, and have their dy­namic evolve in­de­pen­dent of Spi­der-man.”

Ev­ery scene needed to be sto­ry­boarded. “You have to on big ac­tion movies, es­pe­cially when there’s an en­tirely CG char­ac­ter in­volved,” re­marks Fleis­cher. “Ev­ery­thing was de­lib­er­ate. That’s not to say we couldn’t take lib­er­ties on the day or in­spi­ra­tion in the mo­ment but we tried to al­ways be as pre­pared as pos­si­ble. I’ve tried to have iconic poses and mo­ments that take place in the comics and fea­ture them in the movie. We even have a quote di­rectly taken from the comics: ‘Eyes, lungs, pan­creas, so many snacks, so lit­tle time’.” An em­pha­sis was placed on the hor­ror as­pect of the comics. “Cine­matog­ra­pher Matthew Li­ba­tique (Black Swan) has a real ap­ti­tude of do­ing huge ac­tion comic-book movies, like Iron Man, but also do­ing gritty cool in­die films. I wanted to have a grit­tier tex­tured qual­ity that felt ap­pro­pri­ate to the comics and rem­i­nis­cent of clas­sic hor­ror films [from the 1980s], while also de­liv­er­ing large-scale ac­tion and vis­ual ef­fects which are ex­pected in a su­per­hero movie of this kind.”

Fig­ur­ing out how to stage live­ac­tion shots whether Venom was in­ter­act­ing with peo­ple or liv­ing in the en­vi­ron­ment was a chal­lenge. “We re­alised quite early on that things like cam­era mo­tion cap­ture, which have been used on other films to cre­ate dig­i­tal char­ac­ters, wasn’t go­ing to work for us be­cause one of the key things about Venom is while he’s hu­manoid in shape he’s able to move at in­cred­i­ble speeds and can do ex­tra­or­di­nary moves,” ex­plains Venom vis­ual ef­fects su­per­vi­sor Paul Franklin (In­cep­tion). “He never moves like a hu­man be­ing. The most im­por­tant thing was to have some sort of po­si­tional ref­er­ence so you could

frame up for the shot. We got a tall stunt per­former who is 6’10”, and be­cause Venom is ac­tu­ally 7’6” we built him up even higher with a Wif­fle ball on a stick stick­ing out of the top of his hel­met. Then through the suit we had mo­tion­cap­ture ref­er­ence mark­ers all over it so we could at least track his body move­ments and get a proper idea of where he was. Af­ter that it was down to the char­ac­ter an­i­ma­tors to come in there and take the thing over.”

Comic books have the ad­van­tage of be­ing able to draw what­ever they want on a frame-by-frame ba­sis. “Venom dis­torts quite heav­ily in the comics depend­ing on what he’s do­ing,” notes Franklin. “We don’t have that lux­ury in vis­ual ef­fects be­cause we need to make it con­sis­tent across all of the shots, so that the au­di­ence feels like they’re watch­ing the same char­ac­ter and not com­pletely dif­fer­ent ver­sions from shot to shot. Un­der­neath all of that is what you would usu­ally ex­pect to do for a crea­ture an­i­ma­tion, like mus­cles and skin sim­u­la­tions, plus the stuff that com­bines it to the skele­ton to pre­serve the vol­ume and give him phys­i­cal mass and pres­ence. Venom has this in­cred­i­bly strong, densely built mus­cu­lar physique. Work­ing in tan­dem with that is this ex­tra layer of ef­fects an­i­ma­tion that gives him gelati­nous gooey qual­i­ties, which is what the char­ac­ter is sup­posed to be from the comic books.”

There are two dif­fer­ent forms of Venom. “The sym­biote looks like an oily, gelati­nous, slug-like amor­phous crea­ture that has no skele­ton and is con­stantly chang­ing shape and swash­ing

“I wanted TO have a grit­tier Tex­tured qual­ity That felt ap­pro­pri­ate TO The comics and rem­i­nis­cent Of clas­sic hor­ror films” Ruben Fleis­cher, di­rec­tor, Venom

around be­fore bond­ing with the host,” ex­plains Franklin. “Then when the bond­ing takes place, Venom pro­duces this thick rub­bery ex­oskele­ton that sur­rounds the hu­man host who is in­side. This stuff emerges out of the skin of Ed­die Brock, com­pletely en­velops him and trans­forms him into Venom, which is a large, phys­i­cally mus­cu­lar char­ac­ter. Depend­ing on whether Venom is in the fully hu­manoid form or in the raw sym­bi­otic state you get var­i­ous stages of gelati­nous­ness.” Ev­ery shot of Venom in­volved ef­fects an­i­ma­tion to cre­ate all of the goo, in par­tic­u­lar how it moves on his face. “We didn’t want Venom to feel like a guy in a suit. You wanted to al­ways be­lieve that this char­ac­ter could morph into slimy ten­drils. We had this con­stant ef­fect an­i­ma­tion pass that cre­ated the move­ment of the edges of the eye and the way that the strains of goo stretch be­tween the jaws as he opens his mouth, which is a char­ac­ter­is­tic of the comics.”

When it came to vil­lains there were a lot to draw from the Venom comic books. “With Riot, he’s a per­sonal favourite who is a real badass and looks like a worthy ad­ver­sary for Venom,” says Fleis­cher. “He’s big­ger and more men­ac­ing. I liked his colour and at­ti­tude. Riot felt like he would be a great foe for this movie.” Riot de­vel­oped a lot fur­ther from the source ma­te­rial. “He has an an­gu­lar, rough, bro­ken gun­metal fin­ish to his sur­face that played to the strengths of light­ing and ren­der­ing,” ex­plains Franklin. “He doesn’t have any­where near as much di­a­logue to de­liver. The gen­eral mode for Riot is fu­ri­ous.” Sym­biotes can form var­i­ous shapes and ob­jects. “Venom tends to form ten­ta­cles and shields with his goo. Riot has the abil­ity to form axes, knives, darts and spears that can also be thrown as pro­jec­tiles from his body, which be­comes an im­por­tant part of the story.”

Though Venom is set in San Fran­cisco 95 per cent of the prin­ci­pal pho­tog­ra­phy took place in At­lanta. “The chal­lenge was try­ing to find San Fran­cisco in At­lanta,” states Fleis­cher. “But I wanted to make sure to get as much of San Fran­cisco in the film as pos­si­ble. We tried to shoot all of our ex­te­ri­ors there and get as much pro­duc­tion value crammed into ev­ery sin­gle frame that we had to show­case the city.” Help­ing mat­ters

was all of the night-time shoot­ing. “What we mostly did was paint out things that told you it was At­lanta, like street signs and gi­ant Co­co­cola signs that are land­marks in At­lanta. Ed­i­to­rial did a lot of work as well where they would clev­erly in­ter­sperse it with ac­tion lo­ca­tion ma­te­rial from San Fran­cisco. We’ve done a lit­tle bit of CG aug­men­ta­tion to the sky­lines to add a key build­ing which fea­tures in the story.”

For the most part what is seen is the real world. “You are look­ing at the chal­lenges of en­sur­ing San Fran­cisco and At­lanta mesh to­gether in terms of the tex­tu­ral qual­i­ties of those dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions,” states Franklin. “The big­gest part of world build­ing in the whole film is the end when we go to the Life Foun­da­tion’s rocket launch site, which is this fan­tas­tic pri­vately run shut­tle base built onto the Marin Head­lands out­side of San Fran­cisco. That re­quired a lot of ef­fort, par­tic­u­larly when it came to the fi­nale, be­cause we see it at night and had to come up with a dy­namic light­ing sce­nario that was con­sis­tent, so you’d un­der­stand where you were at any time in the se­quence, but at the same time looked dra­matic and ex­cit­ing. A lot of ef­fort went into that.”

Pre­vis was pro­duced for the ac­tion sequences by The Third Floor and DNEG. “That al­lowed us to fig­ure out what the phys­i­cal gags might be,” ex­plains Franklin. “In the case of the apart­ment fight, that was handed over to the stunt depart­ment. Chris O’hara, who was our stunt co­or­di­na­tor, de­vised some vis­ceral ac­tion us­ing as many prac­ti­cal stunts as pos­si­ble.

Then what we would do dig­i­tally is con­nect all that up with the ten­ta­cles, be­cause quite of­ten Ed­die is at­tack­ing some­body who is on the far side of the room. We ei­ther have Tom Hardy or Tom’s stunt dou­ble Ja­cob To­muri and the stunt guys do­ing what they needed to do. Maybe they would be on wire rigs or crash mats that we would have to paint out. If Ed­die was strik­ing some­body who was sev­eral feet away from him, they would spend a lot of time get­ting the tim­ing right and then we would track the ten­ta­cles onto Ed­die’s body, ex­trud­ing out from his arms and slap­ping into other peo­ple’s faces or grab­bling them around the neck. The most time-con­sum­ing part of that was the body track­ing which had to be ab­so­lutely spot-on.”

A sig­na­ture se­quence is the mo­tor­cy­cle chase. “We did a lot pre­vis with DNEG and then Spiro Razatos, our sec­ond unit di­rec­tor, took that and ran with it,” says Franklin. “Pretty much all of the beats that we cre­ated in the pre­vis have their coun­ter­parts in the real world, but once you get to the live­ac­tion unit you be­gin to find that re­al­ity im­poses re­stric­tions upon you. Maybe the bike can’t go as fast as you had it in the pre­vis or the jump can’t be as quite as high, or maybe they can do some­thing much more vi­o­lent and ag­gres­sive than what you had in pre­vis. The pre­vis is a guide for what to shoot but then again it’s a lot of painstak­ing match mov­ing, body track­ing, in­ter­ac­tion and cleanup to con­nect it all to­gether.” A com­bi­na­tion of roto an­i­ma­tion and blue­screen was utilised. “For the stuff that was shot on lo­ca­tion in At­lanta there was a lot of re­liance on roto. But when you see Tom Hardy rid­ing the mo­tor­cy­cle he’s al­ways against

a blue­screen so we were adding in the back­grounds be­hind him.”

In the realm of 1,100 vis­ual ef­fects shots needed to be cre­ated for Venom. “We al­ways knew that the big chal­lenge was go­ing to be mak­ing the crea­tures feel real, ex­tra­or­di­nary, and giv­ing them real char­ac­ter. We un­der­stood it would be an is­sue right from the start,” re­calls Franklin. “Some of the things that re­quired quite a lot of cre­ative R&D were the trans­for­ma­tion ef­fects, as we had to work out what it will look like when the goo is com­ing out of Ed­die’s body. The con­ceit is that crea­ture lives in­side of him in a liq­uid state and then it oozes out of the skin rapidly, bleeds through and co­a­lesces on the out­side of the cloth­ing, and forms into the crea­ture en­cap­su­lat­ing Ed­die. That’s easy enough for me to de­scribe, but to vi­su­alise and show it in an ef­fi­cient and com­pre­hen­si­ble man­ner in the film re­quired an aw­ful lot of ef­fort. That was the one thing that turned out to be quite a lot more time-con­sum­ing than we ini­tially thought.”

“For me the chal­lenge has been sat­is­fy­ing the fans’ ex­pec­ta­tions and want­ing to de­liver a movie that peo­ple felt was the Venom they were hop­ing to see,” notes Fleis­cher. “Pri­mar­ily that was in the look of the char­ac­ter, the way he acts in these ac­tion sequences and the way he’s true to the comics. My proud­est thing will be if peo­ple feel that the Venom on the screen is the one they’ve been want­ing to come to the the­atres for a long time.” Venom has re­ceived a PG-13 rat­ing. “We had to be care­ful about that be­cause it was im­por­tant to the stu­dio,” notes Franklin. “We’ve made this as dra­matic and ex­cit­ing but scary as we can make it. It’s def­i­nitely a film that I wouldn’t take young children to see. In terms of sequences the mo­tor­cy­cle chase is par­tic­u­larly dra­matic and ex­cit­ing. I’m go­ing to get a kick when peo­ple see Riot’s first ap­pear­ance in the film; that will make a few peo­ple jump out of their seats!”

“The BIG chal­lenge was giv­ing The crea­tures real char­ac­ter” Paul Franklin, vis­ual ef­fects su­per­vi­sor, Venom

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 ??  ?? Tom Hardy and Ruben Fleis­cher dis­cuss a scene while on set Ed­die Brock (Tom Hardy) makes a dis­cov­ery that leads him to have a close en­counter of the third kind A ten­ta­cle shot taken from the apart­ment fight in which the stunt team was piv­otal in chore­ograph­ing
Tom Hardy and Ruben Fleis­cher dis­cuss a scene while on set Ed­die Brock (Tom Hardy) makes a dis­cov­ery that leads him to have a close en­counter of the third kind A ten­ta­cle shot taken from the apart­ment fight in which the stunt team was piv­otal in chore­ograph­ing
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 ??  ?? The hang­ing tongue is a sig­na­ture char­ac­ter­is­tic of Venom but had to be used ju­di­cially
The hang­ing tongue is a sig­na­ture char­ac­ter­is­tic of Venom but had to be used ju­di­cially
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 ??  ?? Above: Venom had to be lighted in­di­rectly to avoid the char­ac­ter re­flect­ing ev­ery sin­gle el­e­ment Main: A con­cept study ex­plor­ing the ten­drils com­ing off of Venom Top right: A con­cept study that ex­plores the char­ac­ter’s mus­cu­lar physique
Above: Venom had to be lighted in­di­rectly to avoid the char­ac­ter re­flect­ing ev­ery sin­gle el­e­ment Main: A con­cept study ex­plor­ing the ten­drils com­ing off of Venom Top right: A con­cept study that ex­plores the char­ac­ter’s mus­cu­lar physique
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 ??  ?? A blue­screen shot where ten­ta­cles from Venom will be later added in CG to con­nect Ed­die Brock (Tom Hardy) to his Du­cati mo­tor­cy­cle
A blue­screen shot where ten­ta­cles from Venom will be later added in CG to con­nect Ed­die Brock (Tom Hardy) to his Du­cati mo­tor­cy­cle
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 ??  ?? The pre­vis cre­ated by The Third Floor helped to show the un­stop­pable na­ture and speed of Venom and Riot
The pre­vis cre­ated by The Third Floor helped to show the un­stop­pable na­ture and speed of Venom and Riot
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 ??  ?? Be­low right: Pre­vis as­sisted film­maker Ruben Fleis­cher and VFX su­per­vi­sors Paul Franklin and Sheena Dug­gal in plan­ning how the many vis­ual ef­fects shots would be filmed
Be­low right: Pre­vis as­sisted film­maker Ruben Fleis­cher and VFX su­per­vi­sors Paul Franklin and Sheena Dug­gal in plan­ning how the many vis­ual ef­fects shots would be filmed
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