Kevin Tod Haug On Creating 'Quantum's' Visual Effects
An indepth interview with Quantum of Solace visual effects designer Kevin Tod Haug has been posted at fxguide.
Like numerous other crew members on the 22nd James Bond film, Haug had worked with director Marc Forster numerous times in the past on films such as Finding Neverland, Stay, Stranger Than Fiction and The Kite Runner.
Describing the overall experience on Quantum, Haug said: ‘We tore into production with less than 12 weeks of prep, which is unheard of for a movie that size from my point of view, and that was without a final script. There was a writer’s strike, and the script was still being worked out as we were prepping. And then we only had 12 weeks of post. A normal movie these days has 30 weeks of post. We had to make it work in the most intelligent and the quickest way possible. That’s why we did the heavy visual effects shots early and worked as closely with our partners as we could so we wouldn’t get any disaster happening late in the day that we wouldn’t be able to manage.’
‘And then we only had 12 weeks of post. A normal movie these days has 30 weeks of post. We had to make it work in the most intelligent and the quickest way possible.’ –Kevin Tod Haug
He continued: ‘My last day on the show was October 10 and we were coming out on the 29th so there was no space to make mistakes. You have to give the vendors and the VFX crew in London a lot of kudos because there’s not a lot of paces in the world where you could find that much infrastructure and ability to jump on it and run with it as we could find in London. It would be hard for us to do it anywhere else but in LA as far as I could tell. There were lots of Americans who came with Marc but there were people working on this movie who had done the past 22 Bond movies. It was really interesting to be in that group.’
Based off of Forster’s comment that his ‘main bubble for the movie is in pre-production,’ Haug stressed the importance of pre-visualization for getting Quantum of Solace off on the right track.
‘We do a lot of previz,’ he said. ‘Marc is more interested in previz than let’s say storyboards. More often than not previz on Quantum was learning what we didn’t want to do. There’s not a lot of those beautiful previz things where you can see the shot in previz and then wipe to seeing the shot finished. We did an awful lot of work with Gary Powell [stunt coordinator] and Chris Corbould [special effects supervisor] determining what the options were and we eliminated the ones that nobody wanted to do and then we moved on. Marc does a very detailed breakdown built on what we called football diagrams where he gets a layout of the set, lays out each individual camera angle in an overhead view.’
Director Marc Forster
‘He didn’t want the film to look pretty, he wanted it to look more real than pretty.’ –Kevin Tod Haug on Marc Forster
Such detailed levels of preparation enabled Forster to ‘create a new stylistic look for the Bond franchise’ in this film. ‘It was an interesting blend of styles but to me it looks very much like a Marc Forster film,’ Haug commented. ‘He was to bring his taste and style to the Bond franchise and apply it. Going to places like Colón, gritty nasty places to be in, not pretty places to be and dangerous places on top of it all. That kind of look of reality is where he comes from. His movies are full of picking locations almost as characters. There’s a grittiness to it. He didn’t want the film to look pretty, he wanted it to look more real than pretty in a lot of cases so that was a bit of a departure. Having worked on five movies with the man there wasn’t a whole lot of conversations that we hadn’t already had before.’
Despite shooting in more locations around the world than any previous James Bond film and featuring endless action sequences that each had their own special requirements, Haug said his overall goal was to shoot as much footage as possible in camera.
He explained: ‘The very first conversation I had with [producers] Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli we talked about the Bond philosophy of action and they talked about how they’ve always done it in the past and in fact they’d rarely even credited a visual effects supervisor per se. Not that they hadn’t done them but usually the vendor was credited. The idea being that Bond is about stunts and action. So the theory was to get out of that minute control you get out of doing things in CG and focussing again on real action and being able to capture it in an exciting way. So to some extent I chased Gary Powell and Chris Corbould through the process to find out what I could do to make what they were doing better.’
‘In the end we got the permission to go to Siena and shoot there and thank God it looked great.’ –Kevin Tod Haug
‘Other than the skydiving sequence which was heavily involved with Visual FX–even that was driven by Gary Powell’s choreography in the skydiving tube–the CG airplane and all this other stuff was based on shooting real airplanes out in the desert. Just occasionally we weren’t able to put them together in the compositions that Dan Bradley [2nd unit director] had in mind. So we did some CG airplanes but again they were based on real airplanes that were shot already. The interior of the DC3 was huge rig that Chris Corbould put together. So I shot exteriors prior to shooting that. We ran a helicopter up and down the canyons we were going to be in with an Imax camera with a fisheye lens on it so I could cover the entire angle. They were never going to use any lens any wider than that so I knew that with an Imax negative I could extract the part we needed for whatever angle.’
‘So it was all about chasing how they were going to shoot it. We organized it so that Visual FX stuff happened early and special FX happened late. So that Chris had as much time to prep for what he was doing and I had time to finish what I started. And yet everything we did was combined. Chris and I worked as closely together as I think you can for visual FX and special FX. And when I wasn’t working with Chris I was working with Gary. It was very Bond, very Eon, it was all about making it work the way Bond movies are supposed to. With a different director and different production company we might have done things very differently but in visual effects you can do it any way that makes sense for the movie.’
Visit fxguide for further details on the specific action sequences, the different vendors involved in Quantum of Solace, using the DALSA 4K cameras, and more.
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