Getting lost in 'Hugo'

Post by Christine Bunish

LOS ANGELES — To bring Brian Selznick’s unique illustrated novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” to the screen, director Martin Scorsese teamed with top names in VFX to ensure that stereo 3D was used to maximum effect to create the world of Hugo, an orphan who lives behind the walls of a Paris train station in the 1930s.

The child seeks to uncover the mystery of his legacy — a damaged automaton crafted by his clockmaker father — while eluding a drunken uncle, an authoritarian station master and learning the secrets of the station’s embittered old toy store owner who turns out to be pioneering filmmaker George Melies.

Many see Hugo as a game changer in the deployment of stereo 3D as a storytelling device. “I think Hugo will alter the way people view 3D in general,” says Oscar- and Emmy Award-winning VFX supervisor Rob Legato, who served as the movie’s VFX supervisor, 2nd unit director/DP. He also conformed the film. James Cameron called Hugo a masterpiece” at a DGA screening prior to its release.

“3D was not a gag added on top of the movie,” says Legato. “It was never meant to be a gimmick for extra sales value. It was part of the dramatic storytelling and gave a greater emotional impact than 2D. We designed and shot everything as a three-dimensional movie, so it was never distracting. Marty is known for eliciting great, truthful performances, and 3D in the hands of a master — and all the other Academy Award winners who collaborated on this movie — is really fulfilling.”

Hugo marked Legato’s first “direct experience” with stereo 3D. Although he had worked on a portion of Avatar, creating the virtual camera system for Cameron, Legato shot some 60 days worth of material for this new Scorsese film. He, and cinematographer Bob Richardson, used several Vince Pace-designed prototype Fusion rigs and a Steadicam rig built especially to house the smaller, lighter Arri Alexa cameras in a stacked configuration. read more...
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