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Posted August 24, 2015 by admin in Resource
 
 

Catatan Produksi Film Fantastic Four (2015)


About the Production

FANTASTIC FOUR reunites Trank with director of photography Matthew Jensen, who served as the cinematographer on “Chronicle.” Unlike his work on that film, which was shot in a found-footage, handheld style, FANTASTIC FOUR showcases more classic filmmaking techniques, with most of it shot using stabilized dolly and crane-mounted cameras and Steadicam.

Jensen employed Arri Alexa cameras, which are film-style digital motion picture cameras, using the Super 35 format. “The Alexa cameras have proved to be great for us because nearly every scene involves some sort of visual effects,” he says. “So it’s easy to work in a digital environment. I couldn’t have shot FANTASTIC FOUR in the same way on film, because I worked at such low light levels and so much of the lighting is integrated into the set, so the Alexa gave me far more flexibility.

“We wanted to keep it all very grounded and realistic,” Jensen continues. “It’s a careful balance. I used a lot of source-based lighting, so that the light that you see in the frame is the light that is lighting the shots. I worked with [production designer] Chris Seagers and [set decorator] Victor Zolfo and the entire art department to integrate a lot of the lighting fixtures into the set design. So we had the ability to essentially light the set from the practical fixtures.”

FANTASTIC FOUR was filmed almost entirely in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For nearly 10 years, the Louisiana capital city, the second largest in the state after New Orleans, has been host to a growing infrastructure of feature films and television shows. Half of the film was shot on stages and half on location. “We left no stone unturned scouting in the Baton Rouge area to see what the city had to offer,” recalls native Louisiana-based location manager Elston Howard.

The film’s primary stages and production offices were based at Celtic Media Centre, Louisiana’s largest film and television production studio.

From empty soundstages, closed hospitals – even an old spiritual ministry – production designer Seagers created everything from domestic suburban settings to dystopian secret military-industrial complexes.

For the first several weeks of filming, FANTASTIC FOUR filmed on stage, fully occupying the three largest spaces at Celtic Media Center, encompassing a diverse group of sets.

Inside Celtic Studio’s 31,000 square foot Stage 4, the designers created the Baxter Building underground lab, where Reed and his fellow team of scientists and technicians build the Quantum Gate shuttle that will transport them on their ill-fated inter-dimensional mission. The large-scale shuttle utilizes the advanced technology initially created in Reed’s Oyster Bay garage. The design of the high-tech industrial set was inspired by a local university’s particle accelerator facility, which the filmmakers featured in another scene.

For the set, which took nearly three months to construct, Seagers utilized the entirety of the vast interior stage, including the actual stage walls, as part of the laboratory. Though the lab contained technology that is more in the realm of science fiction, he wanted it to be based on tangible technologies. “It’s all about power and energy, so we tried to use coils and copper and elements to give it a sense of gravitas,” Seagers notes.

In designing the lab’s centerpiece, Reed’s Quantum Gate shuttle, Seagers maintained a design that had already been established from earlier incarnations of the invention. “We tried to keep the basic shape that was in Reed’s original formula,” he says. “He has discovered how this shape works with his particular technology, so we tried to keep that all the way through the movie, so there’s a kind of continuity.”

The Baxter lab’s set’s design also kept to Jensen’s source lighting plan. “The Baxter Lab and Area 57 were our two biggest sets where we used this practical lighting approach,” says Jensen. “So many of the fixtures, the fluorescents, and the lighting on the walls are all things that we had talked about. We integrated LEDs into all of the fixtures so we could control them in terms of intensity and color and be able to switch them for a day look or a night look.”

Celtic’s Stage 6 was the primary site for the live-action portions set in the alternate dimension, which Reed discovers through his experiments with quantum teleportation. “The idea was to make it look like the Earth, but in its primordial growth period,” Trank says. “It’s almost like the idea of going back in time, but without it affecting anything in our world. So instead of it being some kind of creepy, alien landscape that we’ve seen a million times, we’re going to a place that’s really dangerous, where there are natural disasters happening everywhere.”

The dimension’s dark, windswept terrain was entirely created with visual effects based on the key art material designed by Seagers and his art department. “The light and textures were particularly important to Josh,” Seagers states. In creating the concept art for this world, his artists researched different planet surfaces. For the live action portions, particularly the team’s life-altering first visit aboard Reed’s shuttle, an 80-foot by 50-foot blue memory foam platform was erected surrounded by a massive 108-foot by 148-foot green screen, which the VFX artists would replace to create the mysterious dimension replete with its unusual textured surfaces, rocky terrain, dangerous plains, soaring rock columns, glowing rocks, steep cliffs, lava, and spewing orange ash.

During the week of filming the team’s first visit to the alternate dimension on Stage 6, Miles Teller, Michael B Jordan, Jamie Bell and Toby Kebbell wore special extra-vehicular activity (EVA) space suits that required them to be hooked into cooling units in special cooling stations between scenes.

Following several weeks of stage filming at Celtic Studios, the crew relocated to an area hospital that had closed its doors in 2013, to film scenes that take place in an expansive gray, concrete, glass and steel top-secret government installation known as Area 57. There, the intrepid Four are trained to contain and wield more control over their remarkable new powers and, per the government’s ultimate plan, to weaponize them for battle.

“Chris Seagers pitched these concepts of Area 57 being this narrow and long corridor – a locked down, tight confinement-type look,” recalls location manager Howard. “We just started asking questions of the Baton Rouge state film commission about how we were looking for a hospital from the early-to-mid 1900s, because we knew we’d get that kind of architecture and especially those long corridors. Most modern hospitals now don’t have corridors like that anymore. We brought Chris to the hospital and he thought it was amazing.”

With demolition of the hospital location to begin as soon as filming was wrapped, the property owners gave the production permission to gut anything that was needed to create the film’s sets. The art department spent nearly two months stripping away most of the ground floor level of the shuttered hospital campus to construct Area 57’s gray concrete glass and steel high-tech holding rooms, observation areas, surveillance rooms, testing labs, and living quarters. The lab sets were decorated with advanced medical testing equipment and monitors, while the Four’s living quarters were each customized to their special physical needs and powers. This included Sue’s living quarters/library, and Johnny’s scorched chamber, the latter decorated with burned concrete and steel furniture impervious to his red-hot flame.

Of all the living quarters in Area 57, Sue Storm’s room probably has the most character. Set decorator Zolfo says, “Sue’s room is very clinical; it becomes sort of a cocoon that she’s hiding in. Sue goes through this experience where she becomes really introverted, and doesn’t come out of this self-induced silence until Reed re-enters the picture. We tried to make it look like she’s comfortable, but it’s still very cold.”

The color palette of Area 57 is muted and grayed out. Zolfo adds, “It’s dark and atmospheric. This isn’t about bright, sunny superheroes.”

The film’s military technical advisor, Johnny Hoffman, worked closely with the background actors and stunt personnel, who portray the government facility’s quick-reacting Army security force, to ensure that their movements and tactics were authentic. Hoffman, a former Navy SEAL who served as the Taliban Fight Coordinator for Peter Berg’s drama “Lone Survivor,” also consulted with the film’s wardrobe and props departments to further enhance the authenticity of the depiction of U.S. soldiers.

A wing of Reed’s Baxter Building underground lab was constructed at an area radiation research center. Its key feature is a 1.5 GeV electron storage ring. The $150 million facility, which has never before been used in a film production, also served as the visual inspiration for the design of the Baxter lab that was created on stage at Celtic Studios.

In Downtown Baton Rouge, on the corner of 3rd Street and Convention Street, the old Louisiana State Office Building became the exterior of the fabled Baxter Institute. To transform the surrounding Baton Rouge streets into New York City, the art department had to blacktop the roads and add continental crosswalks and bus lanes, while the picture car coordinator brought in several New York City buses, taxis and NYPD vehicles. Although the summer temperature in Baton Rouge soared into the 90s, the 200 extras had to be outfitted in cold weather clothing made for a New York winter.

 

Costumes

George Little (“Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Hurt Locker”) designed the costumes and oversaw a 30-person department. Little says most of the wardrobe in FANTASTIC FOUR adheres to an organic black, brown and gray color palette, consistent with the film’s production design.

“We went through probably fifty or sixty drawings of each character’s costumes, done by concept artist Keith Christensen, constantly refining or changing them,” notes Little.

As a precautionary measure to protect them from whatever harsh environmental elements they may be subject to as they travel to an alternate dimension, Reed, Johnny, Ben and Victor don extra-vehicular activity (EVA) suits they have developed. “The EVA suits were based on research we did on what scientists are doing for future missions to Mars, where they are trying to come up with suits that are not the bulky things we normally see,” Little says. “Also, we don’t know where the Four are going – it’s not necessarily space, but it is definitely not of this Earth, so the suit had to offer protection that you would find in a prototypical space suit.”

In fashioning the EVA space suits and the Four’s post-transformation containment suits, Little relied on the temperature-controlled smart fabrics from Italian textile company Eurojersey. The warp-knit polyamide microfiber and LYCRA elastomer suits were breathable for long days of filming and could stretch, which was useful for the action and stunt sequences. Based on the costume department’s designs and fabric needs, the suits themselves were made by specialty costumes company Film Illusions (“Thor,” “Star Trek”).

The containment suits, which allow the wearer to interface their neural transmission to control his or her conditions, were partly inspired by suits made for people with neuromuscular disorders such as MS and cerebral palsy. (Jamie Bell wore a traditional spandex motion capture performance suit, as he would be transformed into The Thing using CG.)

In the story, Johnny Storm’s and Sue Storm’s containment suits were designed by the government during their stay at Area 57. Upon escaping from the facility, Reed constructs his own costume that allows him to rein in his super-flexibility. He kitbashes the suit together from fabric and parts he salvages while in hiding in Argentina. “Reed has escaped to South America and built his suit from scrap material – coils, bands, plumbing parts, whatever he can come up with,” says Little. “We wanted to make sure it had a just put together feel, rather than something that was very clean or superhero-ish.”

For scenes where Johnny is aflame, Michael B. Jordan wore a special interactive fire light suit that was then fully rendered via CGI during post-production. The custom suit was outfitted with a series of hundreds of bright, pulsating yellow and orange LED lights that would serve as a practical light source to shine on the set pieces to simulate the light of the flames.

Lighting Johnny became a personal project for director of photography Matthew Jensen. “Not only is he on fire, but he is a walking light source. So it was very important to me that we not cheat the lighting. Normally in that type of situation you’d have some sort of movie lighting that is just outside the frame to cheat the fire coming from the character when he lights walls or people. But I insisted that Michael as Johnny actually wear his light. That’s where the digital effects came in because we knew they would be covering up his body with flames. So we built this light suit, and because the technology in LEDs is so sophisticated we were able to build it from head to toe. It was all run remotely from our dimming console. So Johnny could walk around and light the set just with that suit.”

Sue Storm’s containment suit holds her spectral force field flares and controls her visibility. “Basically, there are certain parts of the suit that don’t disappear when she fades in and out,” explains Little. “It’s not that she doesn’t want to disappear, but the people holding her captive don’t want her to disappear; they’d like to know where she is.”

The event that transforms the Fantastic Four in the Baxter Building lab also has profound effects on fellow traveler Victor von Doom, who’s been accidentally left behind in the alternate dimension. The EVA space suit he was wearing during the episode becomes permanently infused with his skin, while his helmet also merges to create a mask over his face. The rest of him is covered in a dark, ragged cloak, made from the flag the Four left behind.

During his three years in isolation this alternate dimension, Victor’s appearance takes on the organic sheen of its surface. According to Little, “Victor imploded and the atoms have fused his suit with his body along with the other substances on the planet.

The colors of the suit were created from all the organic materials from the dimension, and all burned.” Manufactured by specialty costumes company Film Illusions, Victor’s skin/suit (neck, body, hands and gloves) was fabricated out of silicon and spandex, while his mask and helmet were produced out of clear urethane that was intrinsically painted from the inside. “The intrinsic painting gives him a depth of feeling of the person underneath, rather than just a mask,” Little adds. “This is actually his head. This is his face. This is who he is.”

 

Visual Effects

Overseeing this massive VFX undertaking on FANTASTIC FOUR was Academy Award winning visual effects supervisor Kevin Mack.

To create the alternate dimension, Mack had to digitally build environments based on Seagar’s designs. “The idea is that it’s a parallel dimension to ours; maybe it’s a version of Earth or some other planet altogether,” Mack explains. “It’s very much like a primordial Earth, yet it’s different because it’s in another dimension and has developed differently. Its characteristics are eventually reflected in what happens to our characters and the powers they acquire from it.”

Mack notes that the organic elements contained in this dimension become most prominent in the transformation of Ben Grimm. “Ben develops this incredibly dense, strong, rocky hide,” Mack states, while noting it won’t be exactly like any particular version of The Thing fans are already familiar with. “Rather than just a kind of matte, evenly textured surface, Ben has a much more complex surface with different reflective characteristics, color and texture. As he moves, his rocky surface crunches and cracks and reforms.”

Noted concept artist Keith Christensen (“X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Man of Steel”) crafted a one-third scale model maquette of Ben sculpted out of 40 pounds of plastilina clay. The maquette laid the foundation for the character’s CG rendering.

Transforming Ben into a hulking six-foot eight-inch rock creature, took the combined efforts of the on-set visual effects artists as well as the team at MPC (Moving Picture Company), the global visual effects house whose recent credits include “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Godzilla” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Mack explains the challenges of creating Ben Grimm’s character based on the medium of performance capture. “Using several witness cameras from multiple angles, we were able to see everything Jamie Bell did, and capture every nuance of his performance, to integrate into the CG version of the character. “It had to be tempered with a careful artistic interpretation of the performance. Jamie did some amazing things with his face and body to take on the character. It gave the animators something really great to work with.”

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