A VFX Student Project Breakdown: Love and 50 Megatons

A VFX Student Project Breakdown: Love and 50 Megatons

Embark on your Rookie Awards 2024 journey with inspiration from VFX Supervisor Denis Krez. In this article, he provides a comprehensive breakdown of the student project "Love and 50 Megatons," offering insights into every aspect of the VFX pipeline.

If you are starting to think about the Rookie Awards 2024 and entering a VFX project, this article is inspiration for you!

Denis Krez,  VFX Supervisor and graduate of Animationsinstitut of Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, shares a breakdown of student project "Love and 50 Megatons", covering all aspects of the VFX pipeline.

We love your project "Love and 50 Megatons". Can you break down a specific shot or sequence from the project to give us a closer look at the VFX process and to aspire your fellow VFX enthusiasts?

Sure - I am happy to take you behind the scenes of  our student project. I think the intro sequence is a great example of the workflows. Here we get to know the city of "Love" and the daily life of its citizens.

We started by translating the script into images by creating a rudimentary storyboard. At the same time I started to develop beatboards, moodboards and concepts.

Recognising the need for parallel development, we decided on a simple but effective approach for developing our story - making models out of cardboard. This allowed the director, cinematographer and myself to work together at the same table, adjusting or creating the models as needed. The result was a tangible map of the city that supported our narrative. I transferred the cardboard models into a digital world, reconstructed the city using Blender and created a previs based on the storyboard. This phase required an awareness of the limitations of the miniature, including overcoming challenges such as camera positioning and working with small dimensions.

In the next phase, the miniatures were built, a two-month undertaking with a team of around seven people. Streets and buildings were carefully illuminated, and the movements of the vehicles were synchronized with the corresponding camera framerate. We shot the miniature set for a week, exploring the wide range of filming techniques.

Green screens were only used sparingly; printed backdrops were often sufficient. To convey the scale of a miniature set, haze was used liberally - so much so that we set off a fire alarm in the building.

Small figures were always placed at different positions in the picture to frame the shots and as a reference for later. After shooting the miniatures, a preliminary cut helped to plan the follow-up shoot of people in front of green screens.

In a single day, numerous classmates were dressed and we recorded all the necessary shots. I used these plates to create rough layouts, which we evaluated in the editing process.

The final phase of compositing involved: fine-tuning the elements to the backgrounds, embedding them with shadows and dust interactions. Background adjustments, retouching of visible wires, model repairs, lighting enhancements and the addition of vehicle exhausts breathed life into the footage. To complement the traditional miniature and green screen shots, we added real shots of people in front of a screen using real-time projections.

Using photogrammetry, we imported the miniatures into Unity and projected them in real time onto a large screen behind the actors. This made the sequence much more realistic.

The final VFX steps included exporting and grading the final images and colour grading with sound design and score.

The result was a delightful fusion of practical and digital effects, as well as old and new techniques that brought "LOVE & 50 MEGATONS" to life.

Reach out to Denis via his personal website and LinkedIn. And read his article, The Role of VFX Supervisor in the VFX Industry for which he shares his journey into his latest role.