Fusion Studio & Flash Film Works Composite Action/Comedy ‘Barely Lethal’

Published on in Equipment / Tech Reviews

Compositing for the new action/comedy summer film “Barely Lethal” was completed by Hollywood based VFX company Flash Film Works using Fusion Studio. Jeremy Nelson, a VES award winner and compositing supervisor at Flash Film Works, and his team used Fusion Studio to help create action sequences and fine tune camera moves for the film.
Written by John D’Arco and directed by Kyle Newman, “Barely Lethal” follows Megan Walsh (Hailee Steinfeld), a teenage international assassin who yearns for a "normal" adolescence. After faking her own death and enrolling in high school, Megan quickly learns that surviving high school is more challenging than international espionage. Jessica Alba, Sophie Turner, Samuel L. Jackson, Dove Cameron and Jaime King round out the stellar cast. 
In one particularly emotional scene, the actors are gathered in the back of an airplane after one of the characters has fallen into the ocean. Jeremy explained: “Samuel L. Jackson’s character walks away from the camera while it pulls away from the group, and the plane door closes as it flies away. 

“Since the camera was moving, and I needed to match the camera move in 3D space, I did a 3D camera track in SynthEyes. Then I created the plane’s interior by projecting still images of an actual C-130 plane onto 3D primitives created in Fusion, and that was married with the C-130 exterior model made in LightWave,” continued Jeremy.
“Due to set limitations, they were unable to do the full camera move, so I completed it using Fusion. I animated the camera and the airplane in Fusion based upon the limitations of the plate. We needed to have the door of the plane close on the actors and transition to the full 3D exterior,” said Jeremy. “Each character in the airplane was on their own 3D image plane so they could be projected in 3D space separately. However, Jessica Alba’s character’s body was cut off and in the wrong position, so we took different takes from other plates to recreate her body.”

According to Jeremy, this was a challenging task since the camera was pulling out, and a lot of retiming had to be done so that it could look seamless. “We similarly had to modify the movements of Samuel L. Jackson’s character as he stops moving before the door closes, so he had to be slowed down. There was also wire removal that had to be done, as wires were in front of the characters for much of the shot, and that had to be precise since the principal characters are very close to the camera.” 
To finish the scene, Jeremy used background sky and landscapes from a matte painting provided by DuMonde VFX. He also modified Fusion’s lens flare template to create a lens flare as the plane was flying off.  “With all of the elements in place, I just finessed them in order to make the shot look seamless and photoreal,” he said.

“Being able to create that camera move in Fusion and zoom into the viewer to line everything up really made developing that scene easy. Having to do that in another program would have been clunky, but with Fusion we were able to make adjustments in real time, which was great. We had it playing and used custom curves and the curve editor to finesse the shot,” Jeremy concluded. “Also Fusion's RAM caching let us quickly see iterations and that really helped. The way Fusion handles OpenGL was pretty awesome. We could change the camera in real time and get multiple iterations out. We were able to tweak it quickly which helped with any time constraints.”

Released by DirecTV and A24, “Barely Lethal” is now playing in theaters and is available On Demand.

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