Anatomy of a Pitchpole
Milk VFX’S sara Bennett Breaks down the ‘pitchpole’ Visual effects shot in adrift
1. Hitting the wave
One of our key challenges was animating a bespoke 100-foot wave by hand. The wave had to be placed specifically to tie in perfectly with the timing of the live-action plate, to emphasise the huge scale and mass of the body of water, and add to the climactic apex of the pitchpole shot.
We also had to seamlessly transition from one live-action plate to another without any cuts. We used a CG camera that had to rotate 180 degrees, starting from a shot of the live-action plate looking up at the wave from behind the boat, to another plate that was onboard the boat looking back at the wheel of the ship and the actors.
3. Inside the boat
We then transition into the interior cabin of the Hazana. For this part of the shot, we were given a plate of a rotating green box that imitated the layout of the real Hazana’s cabin, which had Tami’s (Shailene Woodley) stunt double inside. This seamlessly follows on from the big wave that hits the boat.
4. CG interior
We made a fully CG interior of the Hazana based on a LIDAR and photoscans. We used this to replace the greenscreen and animated a digi-double of Tami that we used to stitch between real Tami and stunt Tami. To add to the impact of Tami being flung around we generated water sims and added CG props as well as strong interactive lighting.
The last part of this complex shot is a transition to our underwater environment. This was a full CG shot, with the exception of a takeover into a live-action plate of Richard disappearing into the depths of the ocean, after he is knocked unconscious by the mast of the boat.