To learn more about their work on The Fighter, the 2011 Academy Award Nominated Film for Best Picture, we recently caught up with Josh Comen (visual effects producer) and Tim Carras (visual effects supervisor) at Comen VFX. The studio was responsible for a total of 383 visual effects shots on the film. Most were footage of the three major boxing matches, with about two dozen of these shots requiring crowd replication. The balance of the work included a mix of monitor comps, end titles, and blood enhancement.
The director, David O. Russell, wanted the movie to look untouched from a visual effects standpoint. Before Comen VFX could begin its magic of doing undetectable work, much of the footage needed to be converted to 24p. The footage from the boxing matches was shot on 12 Betacam SP camcorders to effectively portray what you would have seen on TV in the 80’s and 90’s.
“I started using Magic Bullet Suite back in 2002. Since then, Magic Bullet has remained at the top of my tool box. For The Fighter, we ended up creating a pipeline in After Effects, beginning with the Magic Bullet Frames plug-in. We used that to get a 24p out of the 60i,” said Tim Carras. “Magic Bullet Suite is a main stay asset of our facility,” added Josh Comen.
Magic Bullet Frames is one of eight products included in Magic Bullet Suite. With Magic Bullet Frames, you can start with ordinary interlaced video, apply sophisticated algorithms, and end up with smoother, professional de-interlaced look of 24p film. Choose between motion-adaptive and field-blended approaches, and you’ll get high quality footage at high speeds, right in your editor’s timeline.
For a good number of the boxing shots in The Fighter, the footage conversion required a multi-step approach. The original idea was to shoot all boxing scenes from one direction and move the extras around the arena as needed. In the end, since a dozen cameras were used, sometimes the best shot did not have enough people in the stands—leading Comen VFX to do crowd replication work on a total of 23 shots.
“We did all of our compositing work in Nuke before passing back the 60i footage to After Effects, where we then used Magic Bullet Frames for de-interlacing. The footage matched seamlessly. Magic Bullet Frames has a lot of nice settings for edge enhancement, which really helped us sell the required ‘look’ of the boxing scenes,” said Carras.
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