Just published on the Cinefex blog is my Q&A with Eric Durst, Visual Effects Supervisor on Snowpiercer. In this science fiction film directed by Bong Joon-ho, a giant train circles an ice-locked, post-apocalyptic Earth on endless tracks. Its carriages contain a highly stratified society of survivors, from the working classes at the rear to the privileged bourgeoisie at the front. It’s an atmosphere ripe for revolution.
In this short extract from the Q&A, Eric discusses the stunning underwater environment of the train’s Aquarium Car:
It was an interesting lighting challenge, with the water environment on one side and the window looking out on the frozen landscape at the other. Director of Photography Alex Hong had light travel through water trays on top of the aquarium structure. These refracted the light spilling on the actors, replicating the way light would react in an actual aquarium environment. This became a wonderful base to work with so the CG tank and fish could become integrated. Light streamed through the window in the Sushi Bar area, reinforcing the look of the ice and cold outside.
Mark Breakspear and his team in Vancouver really took on the challenge of creating this world, with many visits to the Vancouver Aquarium to study the fish, the lighting environments, the way the light refracted through the water and glass, along with how it distorted the fish as they passed. Many, many iterations of fish animation were produced to get the right quality of movement, along with the reactions of the fish to their surroundings and the humans observing them. Plants and greenery in the water swayed as fish passed, while an underlying vibration suggested the movement of the car over the tracks.