Fog­gi­est Wa­ter


Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - INCREDIBLY SPECIAL EFFECTS AWARDS -

When you fall in love with a fish man, as a mute clean­ing woman does in Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Wa­ter, some of your courtship will probably take place un­der­wa­ter. How to shoot those scenes, how­ever, is a lit­tle less ob­vi­ous. For most of the un­der­wa­ter mo­ments, vis­ual ef­fects su­per­vi­sor Den­nis Ber­ardi chose not to film in wa­ter at all. In­stead he used a tech­nique called “dry for wet,” in which the ac­tors act in fog. That way, Ber­ardi says, they could be “fully clothed, ar­tic­u­late, and very ex­pres­sive. Plus, there’s a safety con­cern: if we shot this un­der­wa­ter, we’d have had to have res­pi­ra­tors and divers stand­ing by.” In an empty stu­dio space, Ber­ardi and his team at­tached rigs to ac­tors Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones, pump­ing in smoke to help cre­ate the murky view you get when you open your eyes un­der­wa­ter. Pro­jec­tors around the space played an an­i­mated loop to mimic the re­flec­tion of sun­light through wa­ter. Fi­nally, the ac­tors were filmed at a higher speed – be­tween 36 to 48 frames per se­cond in­stead of 24 – so that their move­ments would ap­pear to be slowed down. “We talked about hav­ing them act in slow mo­tion but that didn’t work at all,” Ber­ardi says. “They couldn’t re­ally ap­prox­i­mate the re­sis­tance that wa­ter would have on their limbs.” The last step was the hair, which fog doesn’t lift or wave about the way wa­ter would. A hair-sim­u­la­tion an­i­ma­tion soft­ware took care of that.

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