In our 2020 fxpodcast series in the lead up to the Oscars, we speak to the visual effects supervisors behind the films in contention this year. In this week’s show we speak to Guillaume Rocheron, VFX supervisor of 1917.
In the film, two young British soldiers in the First World War are given an impossible mission to deliver a message that will stop 1,600 men, including one of the soldiers’ own brothers, from walking straight into a deadly trap. The story is based on the personal family history of Director of Sam Mendes who also wrote the script with Krysty Wilson-Cairns.
In conjunction with Cinematographer Roger Deakins, the film was conceived as a single shot, told in real-time. The one hour and 59 minutes run time of the movie is comprised of many actual shots of various duration, these are all stitched together. The final film was engineered with the camera capturing the action by switching between various camera rigs, including a Steadicam, a crane, a Trinity rig and various camera vehicles. These transitions and blockings were worked out during rehearsals that took place during the 24 weeks of pre-production. Incredibly, the VFX from MPC was executed in a compressed schedule of only 17 weeks.
While the film clearly used visual effects for the transitions, MPC’s work extended far beyond just the transitions, in fact, the creation of a continuous WW1 exterior location in France involved a wide variety of visual effects technique. Visual effects were so prevalent that there are visual effects in 91% of the running time of the movie.
Listen here to the other podcasts in this series: