Friday, July 31, 2020

Magazine Article: Cinefex Issue 63 (Part 1)

Here's a fantastic article on the effects work and miniatures used in Batman Forever. It gets a little technical but I think you'll find it really interesting regardless. Due to the tiny text size, landscape format and small images I've edited this so that it's easily readable and the images are nice and big.

I'm going to split this up over three posts.

In Batman Forever – Warner Brothers' third instalment in its comic book franchise – the directorial reins were transferred from Tim Burton to Joel Schumacher, who brought a lighter touch to the proceedings . Significant changes included the casting of Val Kilmer – replacing Michael Keaton as the mysterious Caped Crusader – and the introduction of Robin to the series. Also introduced were a new batmobile and a redesigned batcave, erected in a giant Long Beach dome hangar that formerly housed the Spruce Goose.

Adding campy villainy to the production were Jim Carrey as the diabolical Riddler, a techno-nerd turned criminal mastermind, whose chief pleasure is derived from taunting his victims with obscure riddles; and Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face, former district attorney turned deranged crook whose facial features are hideously acid-scarred on one side while perfectly normal on the other. Appliance for the character was designed by Rick Baker.

Expansive miniature sets, filmed motion control under the supervision of Boyd Shermis and Eric Dust, were combined with computer generated imagery, matte paintings, full-scale set pieces and location footage to create a complex, cosmopolitan Gotham City. Modelmakers working under supervisor Michael Joyce constructed several large set pieces from scratch, as well as pressing into service a number of miniature skyscrapers original built by Stetson Visual Services for The Hudsucker Proxy. The existing miniatures required extensive restoration and detailing to accommodate the retrofit design motif of the film.

A motion control camera moves through the Gotham city set, smoked to create aerial density and lit with splashes of comic book colour.

A nocturnal beauty shot reveals a sampling of the ubiquitous giant statuary incorporated into the cityscape.

A habour statue of Lady Gotham was sculpted, photographed by itself and matted into the cityscape as needed. Modelmaker Pete Gerard installs a rotating searchlight in the statue's torch.

Modelmaker Kento Gebo wires miniature fluorescent lights for the translight surface of a Gotham City sign, one of many incorporated into the miniature environment.

Giant statues carved out of foam were among the surreal elements embellishing the urban landscape of the miniature Gotham set. A sculpting team, headed by Yarek Alfer created most of the massive figures.

Having foiled a bank heist staged by Two-Face primarily to entrap him. Batman finds himself clinging periously to a chain attached to a careening helicopter. As darkness approaches, effects crew members prepare for a night shot in which the helicopter – a model tail-mounted on a rod extending from a linear track – smashes through an eye-shaped billboard.

The billboard miniature made from tempered glass rigged with pyrotechnic charges – shatters moments before impact.

In post-production, Pacific Data Images replaced rotors on the model helicopter with digital alternates that produced a superior motion blur. PDI also incorporated digital neon into the sign and added a computer generated Batman dangling from the chopper and motion-traced to the shot.

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