High Value for Your Budget

The Creative Use of Virtual production
2 - 8 June 2014 at Studio Babelsberg, Potsdam/Germany

Virtual production allows filmmakers to interact in real time with their virtual film world, blurring not only the boundaries between real and virtual world, but also within the production pipeline between pre-production, production and post-production. How has this influenced the production workflows and how can it be put to use to the best creative effect and production value? Those were only two of the questions addressed by the EFA Master Class 2014 HIGH VALUE FOR YOUR BUDGET with Marc Weigert.

Marc Weigert is an internationally renowned producer, visual effects supervisor and 2nd unit director. His collaboration with Roland Emmerich has included films like WHITE HOUSE DOWN, ANONYMOUS, 2012 and INDEPENDENCE DAY. For the latter, Marc Weigert created “Digital Assistant for Visual Effects”, a project management software program to manage, schedule and track the shooting of thousands of VFX elements, which was subsequently licensed to several major studios and used for feature films like STUART LITTLE, ALIEN: RESURRECTION, GODZILLA and X-MEN. He also served as producer and VFX supervisor for the 3-part TV miniseries THE TRIANGLE, winning an Emmy Award for outstanding visual effects, and as VFX Supervisor on a sequence of Martin Scorsese’s HUGO CABRET.

 

The EFA Master Class took place at Studio Babelsberg in Potsdam, located on the outskirts of Berlin. Founded in 1912, Studio Babelsberg is the oldest large-scale studio complex in the world and one of Europe’s leading service providers for major motion pictures (e.g. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, THE MONUMENTS MEN, THE BOURNE SUPREMACY), independent films (e.g. THE PIANIST, THE COUNTERFEITERS, FLAME & CITRON) and TV productions. 


Supported by the MEDIA Programme of the EU and Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, the EFA Master Class is realised in co-operation with Studio BabelsbergStargate GermanyExozetCinectorSpinorVCC Studio and ARRI

 

INTERVIEW: NEW WAYS OF FILMMAKING

Marc Weigert, producer, visual effects supervisor and 2nd unit director, and tutor for the next EFA Master Class, talks about his ideas, plans and expectations for the hands-on workshop 

You will be the tutor for this year's EFA Master Class HIGH VALUE FOR YOUR BUDGET. Can you briefly summarise what this workshop is about?
Filmmaking has changed tremendously in the past decade. The traditional notion of pre-production, shoot and post-production is absolutely not valid anymore. Post production starts during prep, and (formerly) pre-production extends until close to delivery. Re-shoots (or politically correct named “additional photography”), happening during post production, now already are becoming part of the original planning process. 
I will examine all these changes in workflows and show the impact they have on producers, directors, DPs, production designers and other creative personnel, both from a managerial and creative storytelling standpoint. I will show real-world examples, demonstrate new tools, and employ practical scenarios in live workshops. While focusing on some of the detailed aspects, I also want to make sure that entire workflows from early preparation to final delivery are covered.
Above all, I want to present different approaches to exploit these new ways of filmmaking to put better tools in the hands of creative filmmakers and use them for the benefit of the final film, on any budget.

This is the first time in EFA history that a tutor returns for a second master class – Do you have any memories of your 1997 master class ACTION WITH EFFECTS?
First of all, I feel honoured that the EFA asked me back for another round. I have very fond memories of the first class. It is a lot of work to prepare for such a week-long workshop, as I’m trying to cram tons of information and years (by now decades) of experience into that time frame. I got a lot of great feedback; people were enjoying the class and taking away lots of valuable information from it, which was also very gratifying for me. I am still in contact with several participants from different countries after all these years, and have worked with a few of them on projects in the meantime.

What are you looking for when it comes to participants? Who can apply?
I would say that producers, directors, production designers and art directors as well as pre- and postproduction personnel like VFX supervisors, VFX or post producers, co-ordinators and project managers would get the most out of this seminar. I do not necessarily require any experience in or prior knowledge of visual effects, but a healthy interest in the use of virtual production tools to create a higher production value for any kind of visually challenging project, be it a historical drama, science fiction, adventure, or contemporary film with multiple locations or impossible sets. 

What are you most looking forward to?
The questions and the feedback during the seminar. Every participant usually has their own angle of perceiving the information I’m talking about. They might have their own project they’re planning or currently working on, with their own sets of concrete problems. It’s fun to discuss options for those, and find solutions, possibly based on practical examples.

Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
At a time, where it feels like the majority of US movies are based on superheroes and/or destruction (and I’ve done my fair share of that as well) with skyrocketing budgets, I believe that the sensibility or simply different viewpoints of European filmmakers can contribute more than ever before to the art of storytelling in movies. I would like to offer up options to expand the horizons of those stories, and show both advantages and pitfalls of using new technology to create interesting visuals that might not even be considered as an option.