DREAMS AND STUDIOS
Des Jardin’s team generated a great deal of artwork to use as reference, but from a point of realism and detail, allowing director Zack Snyder to go into the DI and put his stylistic stamp on to the film. “That is a normal way we had of working, just to make things very neutral so you can play around with it in the DI. Zack does a lot of DI on his films and we wanted to give him the maximum capability to do that.”
Des Jardin did have references for how certain characters would animate, how the camera would behave, and certain palettes. They decided ahead of time the dragon scene would be reminiscent of Lord of the Rings. The dragon scene was done by Animal Logic under VFX Supervisor Andy Brown and CG Supervisor Andrew Chapman whose animation department was already working with Snyder on his CG movie, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole. That scene required a lot of post development that couldn’t be done into the initial photography or even the previs.
The alien planet with the train was partially inspired by Blade Runner. The environment surrounding the asylum, and the fantasy of the bullet train on the alien planet was handled by Brian Hirota of Prime Focus. “They did one of the hardest shots in the movie, a two and a half minute, three girls take out a hundred robots out in two and a half minutes, in one shot.” Digiscope helped with a lot of stand alone and vanity shots.
The World War I scene used British and French warfare reference inspirations from the Kubrick film Paths of Glory, and from Saving Private Ryan “in terms of the skitty shutter, strobey, crisp image look. And hand held, it was all hand held through there, something Snyder wanted to experiment with.” That was one stylistic approach that was built into the actual photography. The FX were handled by Rainer Gombos and Pixomondo, recommended to Des Jardin because of their work on the movie Red Baron. They rebuilt the assets with a slant towards steam punk, again, streamlining the process as much as possible.
While juggling multiple styles and inspirations, juggling the number of studios involved in Sucker Punch was a piece of cake in comparison to some films. “We usually juggle more, like eight to ten. That is why you have producer coordinators to keep all that stuff straight. Each fantasy had one facility working on it. The hardest thing was making sure it looks like it’s all in one movie. Zack is really communicative and the supervisors really got what we were after early on, so it made it easy to propagate that idea through a number of shots through a sequence, usually between 200 and 300 per sequence, and around 1100 CG shots for Sucker Punch.”