Fantastic Beasts' VFX workflow
employs previs and postvis
By Daniel Restuccio
Warner Bros’ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is considered by some a Harry Potter prequel and by others
an entirely new J.K. Rowling franchise. Filled with nearly 1,500 VFX shots, this live-action, CG and character-driven movie put a huge emphasis on prepro and established the increased role of postvis in the film’s visual effects post pipeline.
For the film’s overall visual effects supervisors, Tim Burke and Christian Manz, it was a family reunion of sorts, reteaming with many of the companies and individuals that worked on the Harry Potter movies, including director David Yates and producers David Heyman, Steve Kloves, J.K. Rowling and Lionel Wigram.
According to Manz, one of the most significant aspects of this film was how visual effects were integrated into the story from the very beginning. The direction from Yates was very clear: “Make things fantastic, but not fantasy.” For every creature design presented, Yates would ask, “What would be the story behind that creature? What would that character do if the audience saw it from one moment to the next?” Says Manz, “It all had to work to support the story, but not be the story.”
Manz feels that this movie speaks to a new way of storytelling with VFX. “Visual effects is now a part of that filmmaking and storytelling team rather than being the guys who stick in everything afterwards.”
Starting in January 2015, while Burke was busy as VFX supervisor on The Legend of Tarzan, Manz worked with Framestore animation director Pablo Grillo, a Framestore art and animation team and a group of freelance concept and previs artists doing creature development and scene design.
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