I'm not often one for superhero movies, but with Batman I'll usually make an exception.
So while I've not seen The Batman yet, I'm hoping to catch it soon, until then I've enjoyed learning from its creative team and I hope you will too.
In today's issue of Cut/daily we'll watch the first 10 minutes of the film, hear from editors William Hoy, ACE and Tyler Nelson, learn a little more about its film-print DI and discover how the VFX team created a brilliant rain simulation “Unfortunately, too expensive to render.”
Oh and they used some of those fancy 'volumes' that are the future...
Watch the first 10 minutes of The Batman
The Batman Editors in Conversation
Steve Hullfish has a characteristically enjoyable interview with The Batman editors William Hoy, ACE and Tyler Nelson, as part of his The Art of The Cut series.
The post-schedule sounds a little insane though....
HULLFISH: How did you guys share the workload when you were in dailies?
HOY: As the dailies came in we just kind of checkerboarded. Then when we worked with Matt after the main shoot, we worked two different shifts.
I’d get in and by dinner time I kind of wrapped up what I was doing and I’d fill in the visual effects editor about what I needed—if they need to temp something for me or just get the visual effects department some heads up on what’s coming down the line.
Then after Matt had a little dinner Tyler would take over and pick up where I left off.
HULLFISH: So the director was working double shifts?
HOY: He’s the hardest working guy.
NELSON: We would work until he couldn’t keep his eyes open anymore and had to go home.
When it came to dividing scenes, in some cases we had a version of a scene that we’d each cut.
Sometimes Matt would be inspired by one or the other of our edits or would completely want to start from scratch.
The Batman Film-Print DI Process
“The entire film was shot digitally, printed to 35mm film, and then re-scanned to give it a certain texture.”
Devan Scott takes a look at the credits of The Batman to see if they event applied the Film Out DI process to the credits.
This tweet has a clip from Colorist David Cole on the reason why they chose to bother doing this to their 'pristinely' graded final film.
You can watch the whole Dolby interview with him here.
The Batman VFX Roundtable
I want to get to the place where I can talk about any subject as knowledgeably as VFX Supervisor Anders Langlands talks about trying to create rain for a car chase in The Batman.
When you’re dealing with a very dark scene with lots of small light sources the rain then takes on a very particular texture. You don’t get just simple motion blur streaks, you get these textured broken up streaks caused by the oscillation of the rain droplets as they fall.
It’s little spheres of water that are elongating and shrinking and wobbling left and right all around in weird ways, multiple times over the course of the camera shutter being open. And that gives you these beautiful, broken up textures. That’s the thing that really sells it as being real, it makes it look interesting.
We started working on this back when we doing War for the waterfall scene and we never really got there. So we set out to try and simulate it properly.
The Manuka team came up with a rain primitive that allowed us to specify the different phases of the raindrop oscillation and how quickly they were going. And then that could be specified by parameters, which Christos Parliaros, who is our FX supervisor, set up on a particle system with Houdini in order to have them animate various different speeds.
It would calculate how the raindrops change shape over the course of the shutter being open, and the team wrote up a bunch of tricks to try and make that efficient to sample because very, very small, very, very shiny things is the worst possible case for a path tracer.
We got something that actually looked really awesome. Unfortunately, it was still far too expensive to render.
— Anders Langlands, VFX Supervisor
You can read the full discussion between Wētā FX's Anders Langlands (visual effects supervisor), Beck Veitch (compositing supervisor) and Dennis Yoo (animation supervisor) over on the superb BeforesAndAfters.com.
Director Matt Reeves hated the really reflective chrome-y zips on Batman's boots, so they needed to be removed.
Because he’s walking past camera, I stabilized each boot from ankle to the top of the boot and then patched something over it and then re-tracked it by re-applying the tracking motion.
It was actually quite a simple solution. I like a simple elegant solution as opposed to a very convoluted one.
I was very lucky that actually worked. Because otherwise, it would have had to be CG boots.
— Beck Veitch, Compositing Supervisor
So remember, even superheroes need help in Post too and cut daily.
UPDATE - MORE BATMAN INSIGHTS!
Video essayist Thomas Flight takes a deep dive into the sound design of The Batman in this fascinating 14 minute video, which includes thoughts on rain, trains and automobiles.
Colour scientist and colorist Cullen Kelly looks at the grade of The Batman and whether it really is 'too dark' by looking at the average luminance of every pixel in the film.
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