December 28, 2014

Here Are Some VFX Shots You Probably Didn't Notice in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

Gone Girl Artemple VFX Reel

David Fincher has used VFX extensively in his films, which should really come as no surprise as one of his first major gigs was working for ILM. While many films use these effects to create spectacle, Fincher often uses them for practical purposes, as you can see in this fantastic breakdown from the team at Artemple (click on the image below to watch the breakdown or go here):

Gone Girl Artemple VFX Reel

And here's more from Artemple:

Fincher's productions, like many in Hollywood, make extensive use of sound stages in order to have more control over the image and sound. While this obviously makes shooting easier in plenty of ways, it does mean that a ton of compositing has to be done anytime there are windows or open doors in the frame. Gone Girl had quite a few VFX shots, and made extensive use of Adobe's tools in order to maximize their productivity:

There are a ton of seamless VFX shots in many of Fincher's recent films, including his last movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo:

Which shots surprised you the most in the reels above? Have you had to do any of this in your own work?     

Your Comment

17 Comments

The mark of a great modern director is that his/her vfx shots are imperceptible from reality. IMO, Cuarón and Fincher always have very naturalistic vfx. Jean Pierre Jeunet and Gondry have always been great with this.
I've noticed that directors who always get great vfx often come from the commercial world.

December 28, 2014 at 4:49PM

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Harry Pray IV
Director of Photography/Lighting Technician/Colorist
200

It’s a confusing and cruel circle of irony.

When you have no budget you have to shoot in a real location because you can’t afford to build sets.

When you have a budget you fake the location to avoid disturbances and save money.

December 28, 2014 at 4:50PM, Edited December 28, 4:50PM

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Lewis McGregor
Content Creator
124

Amazing work. When CGI can be so seamlessly and unnoticeably integrated in to films the way Fincher does in his movies, I just don't understand how big budget Hollywood features can justify bad or really noticeable CGI.

I think the key is over-reliance. Fincher uses CGI to enhance and support live action footage and afford himself creative control over elements that would otherwise be very difficult to get just right. But when movies rely too heavily on CGI, I think, that's when things start to get really noticeable (and sloppy). So, hats off to Fincher for continuing to raise the bar. Great stuff.

December 28, 2014 at 4:51PM

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Oren Soffer
Director of Photography
1939

I like how Fincher uses cgi for a storytelling purpose rather than usual flare and glare. cgi can be used in instances like these to produce a background that sets a mood to the scene. Maybe a few trees here and there or maybe no trees leaving the viewers with vast openness of the scenery, manipulating your emotions in the way the filmmaker wants.

December 28, 2014 at 10:22PM

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Liam
Director, screenwriter, editor, DP
81

It's kind of weird to think that in a movie with the scale of gone girl he uses so much green screen, and Nolan in a movie with the scale of interstellar uses none green screen. Still, he's one of my favorite director's.

December 28, 2014 at 11:37PM, Edited December 28, 11:37PM

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Finally watched Gone Girl last night and really liked it. But the entire time I was thinking what's the big deal about the 6K workflow? He could have shot the movie with an Alexa, it would have looked much nicer and he would have saved a small fortune on the ridiculously absurd 6K workflow which didn't translate into a better movie or one more ticket sold. But hey, great movie, made a boatload of cash, so who am I to talk...

December 29, 2014 at 1:18AM

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Lance Bachelder
Writer/Director/Editor
330

I think you're missing the point. 6k gave them a lot of wiggle room in post. Being able to reframe shots is a huge advantage. I'm sure the vfx team loved the extra resolution too. The film looked amazing too. Saying it would've been richer with an Alexa is a slap to the face to the whole crew. Cameras don't make the film.

December 29, 2014 at 12:18PM, Edited December 29, 12:18PM

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I didn't miss the point at all, I understand Fincher is a perfectionist and does the extra things he deems necessary as an elite A List Director. I lean more toward the Eastwood school of fully prepared actors getting one or 2 takes and moving on. I also believe the shot can actually be framed correctly on the set while shooting, not second guessing in post. Everybody has their own process and all that matters is the end result - Gone Girl is a great movie but it would have been great without 6K, stabilization, green screening exteriors etc. because the script and performances were great. Did I say great too much?

December 29, 2014 at 2:07PM

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Lance Bachelder
Writer/Director/Editor
330

No, the VFX team does not love 6k and they don't love pulling bluescreens from compressed material (RED can't shoot true uncompressed RAW. It's basically wavelet compression Cineform in a RAW type wrapper). The VFX people prefer uncompressed material of sufficient resolution. If more resolution is needed to execute a certain fx then you're better off renting a Sony F65 and shooting 6k uncompressed or any of the other 4k uncompressed cameras (Sony F4/F55 etc)

Compression makes it more difficult to key greenscreens, especially when you are working with a director that demands that every hair of peachfuzz is preserved in the final composite.

Compressed material is also inherently softer than uncompressed. We have seen on several occasions when uncompressed 4k was as sharp or sharper than 6k compressed or the difference was negligible. The sharpest footage I have ever seen or worked on was uncompressed 6k out of a F65 on 'Oblivion'.

Logistically 6k is also a PIA in terms of network bandwidth, storage and processing, but in all likelyhood the VFX work was one on the crop extracted section of the plate so it probably wasn't more than 4k.

RED started this whole resolution advantage for VFX canard many years ago and as someone who's been in FX since the days of Jurassic Park I can tell you that's it's BS, especially with compressed material. 2.8k out of the Alexa hits the sweetspot and it also has the best color science. You rarely need 6k plates and 90% of fx work you see in the theaters is done at 2k and blown up to 4k. There will be the occasional 4k shot if you are dealing with ultrafine detail that will alias at 2k.

December 31, 2014 at 1:43PM

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Having keyed tons of Red footage, I completely disagree. Red's compression is mathematically lossless at it's lowest setting in practice because of the strong OLPF, and it makes no practical difference until around 8:1 for greenscreen stuff because broad swaths of solid color compresses extremely easily. I've also not been super impressed with the F55 footage I've had to work with, although that may have been more the way it was shot.

Uncompressed is absolutely 100% pointless and stupid. When we transcode shots to EXR we never use uncompressed, it's usually zip compressed. The data footprint of most footage can be cut in half or more, you're just burning money for no reason by using uncompressed. The CPU power needed to decompress footage is minuscule compared with storage and bandwidth costs.

January 1, 2015 at 8:27PM

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I agree with Gabe. Keying Red footage has never been a problem for me.

January 3, 2015 at 1:13PM

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I hope, one day it would be possible to export a shot from Resolve to Fusion to do some advanced compositing then save the composit and relink it to Resolve without any rendering. Premier and AE linking is just a game changer. No wonders why they used Adobe on a feature film.
The movie is great.

December 29, 2014 at 8:47AM

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Einar Gabbassoff
D&CD at Frame One Studio
1015

Films have been made this way since the dawn of cinema. The only difference is that it's now CG instead of a painted back drop or rear projection.

December 29, 2014 at 12:10PM

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Phil Jimenez
Creative Director/ Owner Lucky Bastard Productions
74

Yes I done quite a few shots. in my short A Great Life http://youtu.be/ngY7iGbVI-A there are several shots. the long exterior shots of the cabin across the lake had 2 other houses removed, a dock removed and their reflections. To match mood and previous shot another establishing shot had rain added, clouds darkened, ect. There are some other smaller fixes mostly in just reshaping the light which was done in resolve.

On Ghosts of Door County I did a lot of day for night shots including RV driving down road adding headlights, rain, ect. ghostly apparitions in enactments… all fun.

December 31, 2014 at 3:29PM

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Steve Oakley
DP • Audio Mixer • Colorist • VFX Artist
296

Can anyone direct a complete noob like me to where I can go to get the basics in learning how to do these practical visual effects?

The visual effects breakdown reels--where they're dropping all these pieces of footage in and taking others out of a scene--are very fascinating to me! But none of the reels go into helpful detail about how this is done. Are the people and places, which are added in, created in 3D programs, practical green green screen shots, a mixture of the two, or what? How do they get the camera angles and distances to match up so well (i.e. like in the reel from Wolf of Wallstreet)?

If someone could give me a lead on a place to start with the basics I would be greatly appreciative. Thank you!

January 5, 2015 at 3:26PM

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Harlan Rumjahn
Low-level government official
224

For good overall tutorials, check out Lynda.com
For advanced, look into fxphd.com

January 12, 2015 at 6:22PM

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Nils Myers
Filmmaker
81

Check out Hollywood Camera Work (http://www.hollywoodcamerawork.com/vfx_index.html). I had no idea about these things until I watched this, one package covering all the concepts and more!

January 29, 2016 at 9:49AM

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Mutee Ur Rahman
Composer/Sound Designer/Voice Over Artist
10

It is interesting and also funny to notice that most commenters are only acknowledging the work of the director.

February 15, 2015 at 2:17PM

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John Baez
Director- Editor
74