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Fri, 01/09/2009 - 19:00 -- Nick Dager

The Maiden Heist was completed at Prime Focus Group Facilities Frantic Films VFX Post Logic Studios and Prime Focus London all Prime Focus Group companies completed visual effects the main title sequence and the digital intermediate for the forthcoming feature film The Maiden Heist from Yari Film Group Releasing. Together the facilities contributed 125 shots and the main title sequence for the Peter Hewitt-directed film written by Michael LeSieur which stars Morgan Freeman Christopher Walken William H. Macy and Marcia Gay Harden. The film screened at the American Film Market last November. The Maiden Heist shot by cinematographer Ueli Steiger tells the story of three unlikely criminals: museum security guards who become so enraptured by the artwork they're paid to protect that they devise a plan to steal the works back after they are transferred to another museum. In addition to the main titles Frantic Films VFX worked on two key sequences in the film including a rooftop scene in which the three characters played by Freeman Walken and Macy are planning their escape. The actors were shot against bluescreen with Frantic compositing in an entire Boston skyline at night. To preserve the atmospheric vibe of the city Frantic collaged together an entire city backdrop creating numerous set extensions to form a 360-degree view of the city. Using eyeon Fusion 3D projection and matte paintings to establish continuity Frantic was able to change camera angles and use a shared scene setup. For the second major VFX sequence a car-driving scene comprised of roughly 30 VFX shots Macy's character finds himself naked inside a crate in the wrong van. To complete this scene on a very tight timetable Frantic Films employed a joint pipeline with Prime Focus Group's London office. Though the scene was shot on bluescreen it was enhanced to appear as if it were shot en route to the Boston airport and involved extensive compositing work. To ensure consistent treatment of the material between the two facilities Frantic Films VFX created benchmark shots and supervision was managed out of the Hollywood office. The main title sequence features an out-of-focus figure against a backdrop that slowly comes into focus to reveal itself to viewers as a painting. Frantic Films developed a unique effect for the titles using the Frequency Blur tool in Awake its proprietary plug-in pack for Fusion. This tool allowed the titles to flicker as they come up on the screen and into focus lending a realistic bokeh effect as the shapes morph and animate. Post Logic Studios was hired to provide dailies and perform the digital intermediate. Post Logic colorist Doug Delaney worked closely with both the production team and Frantic Films VFX including meeting regularly with the film's director and cinematographer as well as Frantic's VFX producer Tricia Pifer. Having the post house and VFX facility all under one roof really streamlined everything Delaney says. This was the first film project on which we'd closely collaborated with Frantic Films and it was great. If an issue came up I could meet with Frantic's compositor in a matter of minutes instead of days. During the DI process we were able to review VFX shots as soon as they became available. With Pete Ueli and the producer already gathered in the room communication was much more immediate and interactive. No one had to drive across town to give notes. With Post Logic handling all of the scanning for the film Delaney using a Baselight was able to pre-grade and color-correct the VFX plates so that all the elements were smooth and consistent vetting out any differences in scanning or exposure prior to delivery to Frantic Films VFX. Pifer also found that there were great benefits to handling post-production and visual effects in one building. Really it was one-stop shopping for the client saving them invaluable hours of having to go to multiple facilities Pifer says. It was also more economical in addressing shots. We were able to collaborate with the colorists and take the vision of the DP and director to find the most optimal solutions. Issues that might have been kicked back to visual effects for additional work were easily solved in DI and vice versa. The advantages were internal as well. It was great to be able to easily drop in on the DP while he was working with the colorist to see the direction they were pushing certain scenes says Jane Sharvina VFX supervisor Frantic Films VFX. We were then able to work back and forth with the DI in maximizing our internal workflow. For instance we could send a quick test to see how our comp would look in relation to the colored scene that the DP had just completed. For director reviews of VFX shots we were able to drop them right into the sequence at full 2K resolution with a proper LUT which was truly invaluable.