Everything Everywhere All At Once is an amazing movie, with perhaps one of the best original and creative narratives in a long time, all the more remarkable as most (80%) of all the VFX was done by just five artists. We sat down with 4 of the 5 VFX artists all at once and discussed the film, their process, their tools, and by the end of our interview – revealed technical aspects that the VFX supervisor did not know – that had us all in stitches of laughter!
Joining fxguide’s Mike Seymour on the podcast are Zak Stoltz, VFX supervisor alone with artists: Ethan Feldbau, Jeff Desom and Matthew Wauhkonen. Ben Brewer, the fifth primary artist, was unable to join the call, but you will hear the team refer to Ben in the interview. The team was also aided by Evan Halleck and Kirsten Lepore part-time.
The directors known as the Daniels (Swiss Army Man, 2016) were Daniel Scheinert and Dan Kwan. The DOP was Larkin Seiple (Spider-Man: Far from Home, 2019) and the editor was Paul Rogers, who had worked with Daniel Scheinert on The Death of Dick Long (2019). The film stars Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., James Hong, and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Everything Everywhere All At Once VFX
When an interdimensional rupture unravels reality, an unlikely hero must channel her new-found powers to fight bizarre and bewildering dangers from the multiverse as the fate of the world hangs in the balance. In this episode of the podcast, you will hear how the team of five artists working remotely, did:
- 602 days of combined post-production
- 481 shots (although what is counted as one shot in this film is complex!)
- 1,994 shot renders that were shared
- 2,819 versions in total, which means the team was delivering 4.8 versions per day for review
- Plus, R&D and test shots
- More than 91 shots ran to over 10 versions and two shots went to 39 versions
- Each of the team is not only a VFX artist but also a director in their own right
In the podcast, you will hear how the team worked on AfterEffects, with key plugins such as Mocha Pro and Boris effects, plus Blender, and Cinema4D. Mocha Pro was used a lot in part for the lens distortion feature on the anamorphic footage and its warp feature where it tracks on a warp grid rather than planar, which the team used on various paint functions on the actor’s faces. Ethan Feldbau, VFX Lead & UI Designer also developed a set of in-house custom or bespoke tools including AE tools for spatial resolution-independent processes, “allowing us to imbue footage with qualities of lens,” he explains, “It was a very important tool to allow us to make everything match but surprising beyond what one might call ‘technical tools’ plugins, these tools really help with the polish and finish of an image.. to look photographic.”
The film was shot in a variety of formats but mainly Alexa 3.8K and finished to a 4K master. Although as you will hear, some shots were up-resed from 4K and even blown up and then up-resed. The material was also shot with both scope and spherical aspect ratios. In most cases of mixing camera formats the shots, the team would de-grain and re-grain to provide visual consistency. The film was graded traditionally by Alex Bickel who has just done the TV series Gaslit (2022).
The project used puppets, practical gags and the VFX team speaks very highly of the collaborative environment the Daniels fostered and in particular, the team praises the work of Jason Kisvarday, the production designer. Many of the crew have worked together before and the VFX team were all friends prior to this film. Many of the other crew are also long-time friends as Ethan Feldbau pointed out. “I’m friends with Jason Kisvarday. He has a taste for a lot of practical effects involvement in his work. I’ve also gone to school with Larkin Seiple, our director of photography, and I have worked closely on effects with him, and art directed with him for a while.” In talking to the team and especially the attitude of Zak Stoltz who doubled as VFX supervisor and VFX producer, this film relied on strong interpersonal relationships and respected open collaboration in a way that many bigger films would find impossible to replicate.