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26/01/2009

Dark Knight Visuals In Oscar Spotlight

The nominees for the 81st Annual Academy Awards - announced in January - included box office hit, The Dark Knight and its specialist visual effects, which have reached the three-film shortlist.
This means that, for the second consecutive year, Framestore finds itself in the running for an extraordinary VFX awards double.
Framestore VFX Supervisor Tim Webber, who led the company's team on The Dark Knight, is one of the four Oscar nominees, joining Nick Davis (VFX Supervisor), Paul Franklin (Double Negative), and Chris Corbould (Special Effects Supervisor).
This same quartet also forms one of the nominee groups for the recently announced BAFTA Awards, with The Dark Knight one of five films in contention for their Special Visual Effects award.
Last year saw Framestore achieve the aforementioned double, when The Golden Compass won both the 2008 Academy and BAFTA VFX awards, which makes a follow-up double that much more tantalising.
The Dark Knight was director Christopher Nolan's astonishingly successful follow up to Batman Begins, his triumphant 2005 reboot of the Batman franchise.
The Warner Brothers Picture's release opened worldwide in July 2008, and has been shattering global box office figures ever since.
Produced by Nolan (who also co-scripted it), Charles Roven and Emma Thomas, The Dark Knight stars Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Gary Oldman.
Framestore was one of only a handful of digital effects studios chosen to work on the film by Nolan, who notoriously prefers to work in-camera as much as possible, turning to digital effects only when they offer him otherwise unachievable and unimprovable results.
Framestore's shots for the film encompassed matte paintings, digital doubles (including a CG Batman), vehicles, crowds, and the highly sensitive Harvey Two-Face CG work.
Led by Webber, a team of artists and technicians worked on 226 shots for The Dark Knight. Some 120 of these shots involved the astonishing digital make-up created for the Harvey Dent character.
Described by the film's overall VFX Supervisor, Nick Davis, as "fantastic" and "superlative", Framestore's work on Dent's face was the subject of feverish online speculation and top-level security in the run up to the film's release.
The other main tranche of Framestore's work on The Dark Knight involved the creation of digital environments for a sequence set in Hong Kong.
Production shot helicopter plates in Hong Kong, which Framestore augmented with CG buildings, incorporated into real plates for some shots, and into all-CG environments for others.
Again, Framestore's work was lauded by Davis: "It's flawless," he said at the time. "Not only in photorealism, but also in the seamless manner with which it cuts with the live action footage."
The Orange British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) will take place on February 8th, with the 81st Academy Awards (Oscars) being presented on 22nd February.
(BMcC/JM)
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