Going Upside Down at 5D | FLUX

As part of this week’s three-day 5D | FLUX conference at USC about World Building (presented by the 5D Institute in association with the USC School of Cinematic Arts and Autodesk), production designer Alex McDowell discussed his work on the fascinating indie, Upside Down, a futuristic Romeo and Juliet love story in which Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst are not only separated by class but also by space. The two worlds have their own gravitational pulls but are on top of one another.

5D creative director McDowell (Man of Steel), who’s always been drawn to stories with strong social strata, explained the flow of World Building: Inception (in which the world is developed), Prototyping (in which it is tested and visualized), Manufacturing (in which it is produced and captured), and Finishing (in which it is completed in post and experienced).

McDowell suggested that Upside Down (directed by Juan Diego Solanas) offered the perfect opportunity to test this workflow while also being a definite design challenge. “In order to work within this relatively low-budget film, a convincing way of understanding the world, building backwards here, starting with models and then painting over the models, allows you to really look at the experience of the world, even in Photoshop,” he explained.

They looked locations in Montreal for converting into spaces that could be built up or down. “The set that we built allowed characters to be composited on the ceiling,” McDowell added. “The really complicated thing here was eye line: How do you actually track the eye lines between characters that are performing in two different spaces and have to interact with each other?

They used a real camera connected in real-time to a slave remote camera with a motion control unit receiving the data from the encoders, with a computer calculating both video signals composited in real-time to allow one frame per image… Some really interesting, complex solutions to this film played out with a d-vis process to get the eye lines to connect and to be able to build these two sets that had to be stitched together.”

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Below the Line, Education, Events, Movies, Production Design, Tech, Trailers, VFX, Virtual Production

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