Project Almanac – out January 30 – tells the story of a group of friends who discover the plans to build a time machine. Their subsequent trips into the past have ramifications, of course, for the present and future. The ‘found footage’ film features a range of visual effects from Method Studios, which helped facilitate time-altering moments caused by the time machine. We find out from visual effects supervisor Mark O. Forker how some of the key shots were achieved.

Watch a breakdown of Method Studio’s visual effects for the film.

Practical where possible
: “The director, Dean Israelite, responded to the fact that I’d be the first person to tell him that we should be doing something practically. We would try and mix effects as much as possible – mixing CG with on-set practical. Only when there’s no other way to do it or it doesn’t exist as practical, we’ll do it all in CG.”

The time machine begins affecting items in the room.
The time machine begins affecting items in the room.

Spinning tools: “For shots of the time machine starting up and its effects on the space around it, we had some tools dangling on wires. We mixed in two or three times as many tools in CG. The beauty of the ones we would add was that they could be a little more animated and playful compared to something that was restricted to a wire. We thought we could have a base of these that were already in-camera and give us a look, and it’s a perfect example of what it could look like. But they were going to be restricted by cables, and we didn’t want everything to look like it was just dangling there or capable of being a wire removal.”

Enhancing the time machine: “They had worked on the practical model early on – the filmmakers went to practical modelmakers. It had a couple of lights in it but otherwise no movement. I had them build it in different stages, with and without the glass. So for some shots, it’s 100% practical. They would just show it and turn on one or two or lights, but as it progressed and had to be shown working, we re-built the entire guts in CG and animated it. We experimented with moving parts and what in the model signifies the vortex itself. We experimented with being able to look through the machine like looking through time.”

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