Reading: ‘Hugo and the joy of filmmaking’

Reading: ‘Hugo and the joy of filmmaking’

I read an useful article published on Creative Cow Magazine, which is based on the interview with Legato who is the Visual Effects Supervisor and Second Unit director of Hugo (Scorsese: 2011). This article provides a brief introduction about the making process of this film. The article is available online at:

I think the following points of this article are helpful. Firstly, Legato provides a short comment on the performance of different visual effects companies for this film, as he says: “For the movie’s digital shots, Pixomondo did the heavy lifting, using all of their facilities around the world.” According to him, Pixomondo is one of the major visual effects companies for this film and the international teams of this company are involved in the project. It is interesting to investigate further about the form of cooperation among the international teams of Pixomondo with the example of Hugo.

Furthermore, he mentioned the contributions of other companies: “ Matte World did five or six matte painting shots and artistic supervision. Lola VFX did thirty-five or forty shots focused on de-aging, and did a beautiful job. Uncharted Territory created about twenty or so exterior Paris environments. And ILM did the opening shot where it looks like streak photography, and another scene where Hugo points out that the world is a machine.” Although the comments he gives are short, it provides information about what different companies have done for this film. I think this information is useful for preparing an interview.

In addition, Legato also highlights the difficulty of managing numbers of visual effects companies, as he says: “Generally speaking, though, I’m loath to farm a film’s visual effects out to too many different companies. At that point, it becomes something for a Producer to manage, rather than an artistic solution for a Visual Effects Supervisor to manage.” It would be useful to find out more specifically about what the difficulties are for managing many different companies and what factors need to be considered. Moreover, this raises the question of whether the Producer has fulfilled the job and has the artistic ability.

He also commends on the process of making visual effects in this film. He says this film follows a “very free-flowing organic process”. He also describes this process in the following way: “To begin, we didn’t generally storyboard sequences. I did previs to see how we would shoot them, and then used it as a temp while we edited. It was at best a loose concept and a placeholder for a better idea.” He also compared the process with the normal VFX model, which is “turning in sequences by certain hard dates and not changing those dates without a traditional change order”. He believes the more flexible way of working with visual effects companies offers more creative space and helps reduce the cost. What he says here reveals a connection among the cooperation model with visual effects companies, the process of filmmaking and costs. In another word, when and how artists such as Directors and Visual Effects Supervisors know what exactly the CGI scene look like? And does it influence by how visual effects companies plan their work?


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