Blackmagic Design - Fusion Studio - Spiral

Argentinean animation and visual effects studio Malditomaus has brought to life the special effects for Spiral: From the Book of Saw using Fusion Studio by Blackmagic Design.

This Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures production is set in the universe of the Saw saga. Working under the shadow of his father, a veteran cop (Samuel L. Jackson), Detective Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks (Chris Rock) and his partner (Max Minghella) take over the investigation of several murders that are a sinister reminder of the city’s gruesome past. Unwittingly caught up in an increasingly intense mystery, Zeke is drawn into the killer’s macabre game.

Buenos Aires-based Malditomaus specializes in producing “captivating” images for feature films, television, virtual reality and augmented reality. Martin Lopez Funes, executive visual effects producer, worked on Spiral under the supervision of Jon Campfens (Switch VFX). Lopez highlights one feature of Fusion Studio that was especially useful for the production: “Fusion Studio has been one of our main VFX tools for years. For Spiral, we frequently relied on its optical flow image analysis to create slow motion shots. When you slow down footage, there’s often missing pixels, so we used the optical flow tools to create and animate intermediate frames to smooth out the footage. The optical flow tools identify, duplicate and blend the new frames, as well as generate motion vectors to track them within the footage, so everything appears seamless to the audience.”

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Motion tracking

Another key to Spiral was the motion tracking tools built into Fusion Studio. Malditomaus used this system to stabilize the shots, as well as rotoscoping techniques, such as Bézier and parametric curves, to correct the images. Additionally, shot tracking was extremely useful for scenes shot with a chroma key. “Throughout the film, there are several instances where an image is shown on a TV, monitor or security camera. For example, if a cop was looking up something on a computer, we used Fusion Studio to composite the image of the operating system on the computer’s screen. Depending on the sequence, we used Fusion Studio’s camera tracker and motion tracking tools to match the movement and stabilize the image so it could move perfectly with the shot. We also used the Delta Keyer for keying out the green and blue screens and creating clean plates, and the Luma and Primatte keyers to refine precise details, such as hair movement against the screen,” explains Lopez.

Finally, Malditomaus used the Blackmagic Design solution’s three-dimensional particle generator to create smoke and gunshot flashes throughout the feature: “We used the 3D particle generator to create the clouds of smoke and tracked them using point trackers to the weapons’ barrels. We then created muzzle flashes by layering particles and forming them with masks. Together, the smoke and flash gave a very realistic effect of a gun firing,” concludes Lopez Funes.

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For • 24 Sep, 2021
• Section: Postpro