At 105 minutes, Quantum of Solace is one of the shortest Bond movies ever, but audiences won't be feeling short-changed. Director Marc Forster crams some of the most spectacular and memorable action sequences ever into his first Bond film. And while the action is always physical, vfx designer Kevin Tod Haug had his hands full to bring Quantum of Solace to the screen.

08Nov/bond/Craig
Director Marc Foster talks to Daniel Craig

Quantum of Solace marks Kevin Haug’s fifth collaboration with director Marc Forster (after Finding Neverland, Stay, Stranger than fiction, and KiteRunner). Haug supervised the effects for three films by David Fincher: The Game, Fight Club, and Panic Room. He built one of the first digital intermediate pipelines for Tarsem’s The Cell. Haug ALSO designed the visual effects for Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.


08Nov/bond/02_KevinTodHaug
Kevin Haug

Kevin Haug: Its interesting working with a Bond movie because there's so much preconceived ideas about what a Bond movie is. I am generally getting a positive response from people and its obviously doing well at the box office. Of course they always make money. They've made really bad ones before and they still make money so it doesn't really mean anything does it. (laughs) The way Bond movies get written, produced and posted hasn't changed a lot.

So we tore into production with less than 12 weeks of prep, which is unheard of for a movie that size from my point of view, and that was without a final script. There was a writer's strike, and the script was still being worked out as we were prepping. And then we only had 12 weeks of post. A normal movie these days has 30 weeks of post. We had to make it work in the most intelligent and the quickest way possible. That's why we did the heavy visual effects shots early and worked as closely with our partners as we could so we wouldn't get any disaster happening late in the day that we wouldn't be able to manage. My last day on the show was October 10 and we were coming out on the 29th so there was no space to make mistakes. You have to give the vendors and the VFX crew in London a lot of kudos because there's not a lot of paces in the world where you could find that much infrastructure and ability to jump on it and run with it as we could find in London. It would be hard for us to do it anywhere else but in LA as far as I could tell. There were lots of Americans who came with Marc but there were people working on this movie who had done the past 22 Bond movies. It was really interesting to be in that group.

fxguide: You travelled all over the world for this movie. According to the production notes, there were more exotic locations in Quantum of Solace than any other film in the history of the Bond films .

Kevin Haug: Really, that's interesting, I didn't actually realise that but it was certainly all over the place. We were on three continents. It did end up a bit spread out. I've worked with the same visual effects producer for years [Leslie McMinn] and we've worked with Marc Forster since Neverland and so we all kind of understand each other pretty well. So she travelled with first unit where there wasn't quite so much heavy lifting in terms of visual effects. She had a data wrangler with her sometimes and sometimes not. I was with second unit most of the time. There was a period of time where we were actually in three different places, where first unit was off in one place, I was with 2nd unit in another place and there was yet another 2nd unit doing the car chase sequence in La Garda.

fxguide: You have worked with Marc Forster previously, who says, " the main bubble for the movie for me is in pre-production. That's where I set the vision, where I break everything down, and once I start shooting, it's more of an execution." How detailed was the previz for this film. Did you have a 3D animatic of the film to look at before you started shooting?

Kevin Haug: We do a lot of previz. Marc is more interested in previz than let's say storyboards. More often than not previz on Quantum was learning what we didn't want to do. There's not a lot of those beautiful previz things where you can see the shot in previz and then wipe to seeing the shot finished. We did an awful lot of work with Gary Powell [stunt coordinator] and Chris Corbould [Special Effects Supervisor] determining what the options were and we eliminated the ones that nobody wanted to do and then we moved on. Marc does a very detailed breakdown built on what we called football diagrams where he gets a layout of the set, lays out each individual camera angle in an overhead view.

If its particularly complicated in terms of a move then we'll previz it. More often that not we'll know every single angle and what we are going to do and why without necessarily having to get down to granular level of storyboarding or previzing it. Which leaves a little bit of room on the day for improv or what needs to be done with the actors while you know exactly which angles you're going to be dealing with, what kinds of stuff to have nearby. Again if it gets complicated with car cloning for example we'll map it all out. Or if there's a particular bit of action that needs to be broken into pieces then we'll do that as well. We'd never worked on a really large movie with Marc before but I think we got the same amount of previz, maybe even less, than Stranger Than Fiction for instance. Which is more complicated in terms of knowing how you're going to lay out the frame and stick something into it later that wasn't there. Action movies tend to have their own sort of logic and you know if its going to be a handheld camera chasing a guy down the road, you can't possibly previz it perfectly.

08Nov/bond/Olga_Kurylenko
Olga Kurylenko

fxguide: Marc Forster also said he saw that "there was room to create a new stylistic look for the Bond franchise." How did that influence the VFX design?

Kevin Haug:: It was an interesting blend of styles but to me it looks very much like a Marc Forster film. He was to bring his taste and style to the Bond franchise and apply it. Going to places like Colon, gritty nasty places to be in, not pretty places to be and dangerous places on top of it all. That kind of look of reality is where he comes from. His movies are full of picking locations almost as characters. There's a grittiness to it. He didn't want the film to look pretty, he wanted it to look more real than pretty in a lot of cases so that was a bit of a departure. Having worked on five movies with the man there wasn't a whole lot of conversations that we hadn't already had before.


fxguide: Dalsa has promoted the fact that eight of its 4K cameras were used in Quantum of Solace. What shot was that for?

Kevin Haug:: It was the whole skydiving sequence. We call it Bodyflight which is where we shot it. [Bodyflight, the UK’s first and world’s largest skydiving wind tunnel in Bedford was used by the visual effects department to film the freefall from the DC3 plane in Bolivia.] The problem with all skydiving sequences is when you go in close up on the actors you only really have a couple of choices. One is to fake that they're actually skydiving or to do face replacements. Face replacements often have the problem that the face is not doing the right things to be attached to that body. It gets really complicated for closeups to be doing face replacement. Technically face replacements are a bad idea, usually you want to replace the head and that's a bad idea when you are doing skydiving.

So what we ended up doing was having them really skydive but in a controlled environment so the 8 Dalsas were part of an array of 16 cameras that we shot in a 5m diameter wind tunnel in Bedford UK. They learned to skydive. We had stunt doubles as well but most of what you see is actually Daniel and Olga. The problem of being in a 5m tube is that you can only be so close and you can certainly only be so far away. We had a cameraman in the tunnel with them for the closeups but you wanted to be far away you can't do it. The array allowed us to synthesize the camera. As well there's a lighting problem in a tube so we lit them as flat and featureless as humanly possible and then we made CG versions of them so that we could relight them. A horrible roto problem as you can imagine. Having to roto the ripples in their face and what their hair is doing. It got fairly crazy. So we had 8 Dalsa Origins laid out in an array on one side of the tube and in between them we snuck another 7 CineAlta cameras and also there was one above and one below. There was an Arri 3 inside the tunnel with them. And they were all running in sync, even the Arri. We worked out a way of using a crystal sync device where we synced everything to an atomic clock in Boulder Colorado so any given frame had 16 different images of it that we could draw upon. We had 4K and 2K cameras and the stuff that came from film we scanned at 2K.

fxguide: That means you captured a heck of a lot of data.

Kevin Haug: It was a lot of data. It was actually kinda scary. We had anticipated a certain amount of backup being done on the day but we way underestimated how long it took to do that. Those Codex machines that you use for recording straight form the Dalsa are quite expensive items. It actually took us a lot longer than if we'd shot on 16 film cameras and scanned it. But the best thing about the Dalsa and the whole pipeline is with the Dalsa we are talking about a 4K uncompressed image and it has no grain. And so we weren't dealing with any of that noise to be gotten rid of. We had a pure 4K image to work from.

fxguide: Was the Dalsa used on the rest of the movie or was it all shot on film.

Kevin Haug:The Dalsa was used for just this sequence. There was a few other places like at the Palio [The Palio horse race which has taken place every year since 1644 in Siena] where Arri 2Ks were used just because we needed to run them for a very long time without having to change film. Its a crazy environment to try to shoot in. Other than that primarily it was all shot on film. We did a lot of testing with the Red camera but ultimately decided it was a little too bleeding edge for some of the locations that we were running off to. So it didn't make sense to fit it in the mix.

fxguide: You have said your goal was to shoot as much of it in camera as you can? Can you provide some examples?

Kevin Haug: The very first conversation I had with Michael Wilson [co-producer] and Barbara Broccoli [producer] we talked about the Bond philosophy of action and they talked about how they've always done it in the past and in fact they'd rarely even credited a visual effects supervisor per se. Not that they hadn't done them but usually the vendor was credited. The idea being that Bond is about stunts and action. So the theory was to get out of that minute control you get out of doing things in CG and focussing again on real action and being able to capture it in an exciting way. So to some extent I chased Gary Powell and Chris Corbould through the process to find out what I could do to make what they were doing better.

Other than the skydiving sequence which was heavily involved with Visual FX - even that was driven by Gary Powell's choreography in the skydiving tube - the CG airplane and all this other stuff was based on shooting real airplanes out in the desert. Just occasionally we weren't able to put them together in the compositions that Dan Bradley [2nd Unit Director ] had in mind. So we did some CG airplanes but again they were based on real airplanes that were shot already. The interior of the DC3 was huge rig that Chris Corbould put together. So I shot exteriors prior to shooting that. We ran a helicopter up and down the canyons we were going to be in with an Imax camera with a fisheye lens on it so I could cover the entire angle. They were never going to use any lens any wider than that so I knew that with an Imax negative I could extract the part we needed for whatever angle.

So it was all about chasing how they were going to shoot it. We organized it so that Visual FX stuff happened early and special FX happened late. So that Chis had as much time to prep for what he was doing and I had time to finish what I started. And yet everything we did was combined. Chris and I worked as closely together as I think you can for visual FX and special FX. And when I wasn't working with Chris I was working with Gary . It was very Bond, very Eon, it was all about making it work the way Bond movies are supposed to. With a different director and different production company we might have done things very differently but in visual effects you can do it any way that makes sense for the movie.

08Nov/bond/Bond_Italy
Bond racing across the rooftops in Siena Italy

fxguide: There is a long list of exciting shots in this film, beginning with the fantastic car chase along Lake Garda (and then later at the marble quarry) at the beginning of the movie?

Kevin Haug:Visual effects wise the main challenge on that one was that Daniel was not available for that shoot. So we had to find a way to shoot all of those interiors without him being there on location. It was a bummer for him but the schedule just wouldn't allow it. So what happened is Dan Bradley would setup a rig that would put the camera where he would want to put it in the car. and very carefully mapped out all those angles and shot them as backgrounds with the camera where it needed to be and later matched that on set at Pinewood with Daniel in an Aston Martin that was being flung around on a big steel floor in a bluescreen set, bashing into cars and doing all that stuff but in a controlled environment. The plates were shot on location and then we did all the foregrounds later on stage. We had to add windscreens in with reflections in a lot of case. We did also have a third Alfa Romeo at one point that had to be removed. The sequence was running a bit long. The editor had a bright idea of getting rid of the third Alfa which required taking out a section of it. There's three places where we had to remove an Alfa or pretend that the Alfa that you are looking at is a different one by dusting it up in a particular way so it looked like there was a continuity issue.


fxguide: I understand they also removed an Aston Martin by driving it into a lake?

Kevin Haug: The guy who drove it into a lake wasn't really us it was an overeager employee of Aston Martin. It was supposed to be delivered in a truck but he decided to drive the last bit because it was such a cool road and drove himself into the lake. He is lucky to be alive, frankly. Our accident was much more serious but it was a deliberate stunt and he didn't go into the lake thank God or both of them would have died probably. One of the rigs caught this car that wasn't supposed to be part of the action and almost flipped him off this cliff.

fxguide: The rooftop chase in Siena is another fantastic sequence.

Kevin Haug: Great place to shoot. I recommend it. You've got great Expresso on every corner. We almost did a purpose-built set on the backlot. In the end we got the permission to go to Siena and shoot there and thank God it looked great. The chase across the rooftops is mostly stunts. We did some wire removal and a little bit of location combining. The road doesn't actually end in a place where you can have a bus cross the road so we did that on another location which is not too far away. There's a couple of shots that meld the two together so there's no jarring cut to a new place. There's a lot of sky replacement because the time of year we shot there its cloudy all the time. We had to do Palio cloning as well. We shot the Palio but you can't touch that. So we had Daniel come at another time of the year and we had 1000 extras and wherever you see beyond them we put in an additional 40,000 people based on the plates that we'd shot earlier. Eventually it gets to the Art Gallery, an old chapel. That is actually a CG building and then when he gets inside of it its all on the 007 stage at Pinewood. When they fall through the glass into the Art Gallery we used up every inch of the 007 set but it was still 25-30 feet short so every time he looks down we extended the floor and every time he looks up there wasn't room for a skylight or anything so we ended up putting all of that in as well.

fxguide:Another huge stunt sequence in QUANTUM OF SOLACE is the boat chase, filmed in Colon, Panama.

Kevin Haug: The boat chase is probably the least touched from a visual effects point of view of all the sequences. Because he's so exposed we did end up doing some head replacement for some of the more dangerous stunts. But Daniel did do a lot of the boat driving. or at least standing up in the boat. Sometimes if it got a bit tricky there was a driver inside the console in front of him. Be he was always there and Olga was there too. There were some head replacements and we replaced Olga in a couple of shots. The boat that pierces the side of the general's boat was a rig that didn't have anybody on it. So we had a camera setup for that that was based on Daniel's point of view. We matched the angle on a boat that smashes into the general's boat with a slider plate shot on dry land where a stuntman got smacked into something that splashed so we could see him reach the end of that tether and get smashed into the boat. The job was to piece it all together as we handoff from the stunt man and from boat to boat. Each of those happened just as plates and then got combined so there was not a lot of CG involved just compositing. There were also a lot of sky replacements because of the way the weather was in panama. In summer the weather changes from hour to hour so most of the shots were fixing the sky.

08Nov/bond/Forster
Marc Forster directors the Opera House scene at Bregenz Festival House in Austria

fxguide: One of the most spectacular sequences is presumably live action, the Opera House scene where Tosca is performed in front of a giant blue eye.

Kevin Haug: We didn't have enough people to fill the whole place but that is primarily practical. We had about 1000 extras but there's a couple of over the shoulder shots where we did some work to build the croup. The part of Austria we were in, 100 yards away there was Germany, so all of Marc's friends and family showed up, which made it really hard for him to concentrate. We had everyone dress in black tie, and the daughter of the guy who runs the place said it was really nice to see people dressed for the opera. Most opera buffs turn up in t-shirts.


fxguide: How did you create the explosive finale at the hotel in the desert?

Kevin Haug: The interiors were built at Pinewood and the exteriors were shot in Chile. Its an observatory and they wouldn't let us do anything on location, we couldn't do smoke, we couldn't use lights at night. We couldn't even stay there we had to stay 2 hours away. It was very restrictive on that level, although beautiful to look at. We shot plates but all of the exterior explosions were shot on the backlot at Pinewood. This was one place where Chris Corbould and I discussed the potential use of miniatures and kind of determined there was no good reason why they should be miniatures. They needed to climb out of the hotel at some point so there needed to be a full scale version sometime, so we just built a full scale section of the hotel to blow up.

So all those explosions are full scale. I don't think there's a single bit of CG fire and smoke. Some of the flying ash and stuff might be particle systems. Angela Barsin was the supervisor for MPC. She and I sat down to talk about what it was going to take to get it done. We'd shot the stuff in Chile but we hadn't shot the stuff on stage yet. She had it in her head that there was a way to do this all practically. She ended up winning the bet and there is almost no CG at all. Angela and Chris Corbould worked closely together during the shooting to make sure that she got lots and lots of elements. Anywhere you see fire it was Chis Corbould who made it. In the final room where they get trapped, the fire got very close to them but it was tricky making it look as hot as it needed to look, so we did do some enhancement there. If you look closely you'll notice that Daniel's clothing starts to smoke. There's things like that to pump it up at the end.

08Nov/bond/Pinewood
Bond fights in the explosive finale of the film shot at Pinewood

fxguide: How many different vendors did you use for the VFX on Quantum of Solace?

Kevin Haug: We broke it up by sequence as much as we could so people could have pride of ownership. Framestore did everything that had to do with Siena, they did the Palio and the rooftop chase and the fight in the alley. MPC did all of the end sequence at the hotel. Double Negative did the airplane sequence primarily because they were going to do the skydiving windtunnel sequence so we backed it up for them to do all of the airplane sequence. They've also done a lot of CG airplanes. All of that smoke coming out of the DC3 is CG. They also did the car chase, and part of that is their relationship with Dan Bradley from the Bourne movie.

Then there is Machine FX in London, a small company with a bunch of all-purpose kind of guys and it was very easy for us to have them do everything else. So they did the boat sequence and the crowd cloning at the opera, the matte paintings at the Bolivian airport, pretty much all the little bits and pieces, no more than 6 shots at a time. Then there was MK12 who did graphics on the show. So every time you look at a cellphone or the smart table or the smart wall in M's office, those graphics were done by MK12, who also did the title sequence. For the smart table, Dennis and Marc came up with the idea it should be like a giant iPod. We just had a light table and the MK12 guys had worked out the interface, so we had bits and pieces of clear acetate with dots on it for tracking, and dots painted on the table where certain things were going to happen, with numbers next to them so the actors would know where to point their fingers. It was the same for the smart wall to tell them where their eyelines were.


fxguide:You've performed both roles, how would you define the role of a visual effects designer?

Kevin Haug: Its actually a relatively old term and I'm not the first one to use it. Its mostly the way of defining the difference between the politician, the person who actually works with production, or the director, and the people who are actually hands on with the vendors who are doing the work . Its an unfortunate reality that because the DGA [Directors Guild of America] says you can't call somebody a director or a manager unless they're in the DGA, the term supervisor gets spread out all over the place and so you can look on IMDB for any given movie and see 15 supervisors and not know which one worked for the director and which one worked for the motion picture company.

So basically the idea of calling yourself the visual effects designer is that it fits in the same context as the production designer or the costume designer do. Its also not touched by the DGA so its fair game being able to call yourself that, and I do feel that what I do is incredibly equivalent to what say Dennis Gazner [Production designer] did on Quantum where the idea is to sit early early on at the beginning of the show and figure out what's in the director's head or what kinds of things we need to show him, to figure out what is going to go into these sequences, and then to design how its put together, what goes into it, who's going to work on it, how are they going to work on it and what in the long run will be the end result. But not necessarily the actual supervising of the moment by moment finishing of the shot although technically I do find myself doing visual effects unit directing of plates. So I was all over the world.


Thanks so much for reading our article.

We've been a free service since 1999 and now rely on the generous contributions of readers like you. If you'd like to help support our work, please join the hundreds of others and become an fxinsider member.