According to Paul Lambert who won the Oscar last year for Blade Runner: 2049 there was a multitude of VFX techniques used in creating the realism for Damien Chazelle‘s First Man. The following is in his own words. First Man is on the VFX Short List for this year’s Academy Awards.
First Man is a production in which we redefine shooting ‘in camera’. Those words generally imply everything is shot practically, which we creatively did. We had to create a gentle balance using a diverse mixture of visual effects, special effects, archival footage and scaled models to help create the 1960’s documentary-style film that was the Director’s vision.
The biggest challenge was how to shoot certain space and in-flight elements with our CG content to fit within the boundaries of a film being shot with 16mm & 35mm film. The effects had to be subtle and shot in particular way to make it feel like footage from the day. Anything that felt like heavy VFX would have completely taken you out of the story and be glaring out at you.
With the various crafts in the
Using 90 minutes of VFX content that was created at DNeg we were able to create a pseudo full three-dimensional world in-camera. We rendered full 360-degree spherical images to be played back on the screen that gave us the greatest flexibility on the day. The playback system allowed for interactive rotation and color grading as we filmed. Having entire sequence backgrounds in
In our search through NASA resources we came across some Apollo launch footage shot on obsolete 70mm military stock that had never been seen before. Some of those visuals we had to recreate with CG but others we augmented to fit within the parameters that we were shooting. At the core of those scenes we retained the original material but we reframed it, cleaned it up and extended them on each side with matte paintings and CG.
The movie ends with 9 minutes of full frame IMAX footage which was meticulously cleaned up and extended including one shot where we transition from 16mm to 70mm film as we travel out through the portal door. The post work was done at 6k and every visor was retained but had to be cleaned up because at this resolution you literally can see everything.