CGC: Could you begin by giving us some background info about Frantic Films?
RS: Frantic is a visual effects facility specializing in feature film effects with approximately 50 staff located in Winnipeg, Canada.
CGC: What was Frantic Film’s role in the production of X2?
RS: For X2, frantic films provided pre-visualization for a number of complex sequences for Mike Fink and Bryan Singer. As well as helping to provide a template for the action, the pre-vis was meant to help get people excited about the sequences and was used to help ‘sell’ ideas like the
Dogfight sequence. On top of pre-vis, frantic completed a variety of shots for the feature including the holographic map sequence on board the x-jet.
CGC: What did you have to work from when creating the Pre-vis?
RS: Script, storyboards, blueprints, concept art from the art department, photos and pre-production materials from locations department, Visual Effects Supervisor, Director and other key personnel.
CGC: How much freedom did you have when laying out the scenes and the action?
RS: Some sequences had very detailed boards or were key story points in the script and had to be followed closely. Other sequences such as the Dog Fight were simply two words in the script “Dog Fight ensues” and we worked closely with the VFX Supervisor and the Director to flesh out the action and key story telling in the sequence.
Some of the spectacular pre-vis work done on X2
CGC: : How far did you go with the pre-vis, Did you do the entire film or just the VFX shots?
RS: The pre-vis sequences Frantic developed primarily revolved around the effects sequences in the movie, although a significant amount of detail was added to further enhance the sequences and to give it a closer look to the final product. Such detail included enhanced rendering of certain elements, compositing effects and sound effects.
CGC: What’s the best and worst thing about Pre-vis?
RS: The best thing about pre-vis was that Frantic had the opportunity to participate in scene development for several critical sequences in the X2 sequel and brought to life both initial and postproduction approaches for the Drake House, Forest Camp, Plastic Prison, Generator Room, and Dog Fight sequences. Furthermore we enjoyed working with Mike Fink, Bryan Singer, Guy Dyas and the rest of the talented X2 production team.
The worst thing about pre-vis is all the rain in Vancouver but fortunately we were inside for the most of the time.
CGC: Beyond Pre-vis, what else did you do for the film?
RS: Frantic created a hologram map for the interior of the X-Jet, added Cerebro laser/door effects and various comps in the show and trailers. For the hologram map Frantic devised a system in 3d Studio Max to simulate LIDAR scans. LIDAR is a technique used to get detailed 3D scans of real word objects by casting a laser at an object at a high sampling rate to solve for its shape and create a 3D point cloud of the object. Once the simulation was created our compositors further manipulated the colour, density and added compositing effects to enhance the look and story telling of the map.
CGC: Beyond X-Men 2, what’s next for Frantic?
RS: May 30th 2003, Paramount’s The Italian Job is released. Frantic Films contributed both Pre-vis and Post visual effects for this film.
This summer looks to be a busy one; Frantic is currently working on 3 new features which will be released over the next year.
Interview by Jean-Eric Hénault