/Fantasy Island

March 20 2020

The team’s contribution of more than 250 VFX shots on Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island included the addition of characters bleeding black from their eyes, CG sea snakes, and loads of blood and gore; the stuff of a great horror film.

VFX Supervisor Simon Maddison recently collaborated with Director Jeff Wadlow.

When talking about his collaboration with Jeff Wadlow, Simon explained, “Jeff is an absolute visionary for the horror genre. He knows what he wants, but is also very open to collaboration, both artistically and technically.”

“From the first draft of the script, through assisting in the design, and then shooting all the (plates for the) VFX for the film – to see that hard work come to fruition, (including) seven weeks spent in Fiji, was an incredibly rewarding part of the process. As was the eight months in post-production back here at Cutting Edge in Sydney.”

Simon Maddison on-set with Jeff Wadlow.

The team contributed a range of CG shots including effects, set extensions and creature shots. 

“Despite being a supernatural theme, the director was striving for something more natural than Star Trek. This presented the greatest artistic challenge of the film. Finding the right balance for the overall look, as well as ensuring audiences could follow the story in each and every shot,” said Simon. 

To create the perfect backdrop for the film, something that had the right blend of fantasy and unsettling vibes was part of the challenge. The team helped up the ante, adding to scale of the in-camera footage with set extensions.

As Simon described it, “Ensuring the authenticity and tone of the locations was another challenge we encountered. The production found the most incredible house in an isolated part of Fiji. Although it provided most of the vision the director had in mind, it did need some adjustment in terms of its scale.”

“Working with the Production Designer Marc Fisichella, we designed and created an additional two floors to the hotel and extended the mountains surrounding it. This added an elevated level of fantasy, isolation and just the right amount of creepiness to the place. It is a fantasy island after all! The challenge here was the same as in any complex set extension. Finding the right style to work with an existing structure took some time to get right. Thankfully Marc came with an amazing reference that fit perfectly, but also gave the hotel it’s own feeling and identity. The extension of the mountains was based on a combination of the actual Fiji location and the Heavenly Pillar in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China.

“We also needed to extend an exterior location to elevate the sense of danger in a scene. When our heroes face-off against one of the film’s biggest villains, the action takes place at the top of a menacing and dangerous cliff face. The shoot location was a large quarry in Fiji but like any good fight scene, adding 500 feet of rock face helped the story immensely. The challenges here were working with moving cameras whilst trying to blend in-camera photography with CG extensions in a way that felt natural and realistic. There was a lot of complex rotoscoping required, CG rock surfaces, and even a digital double or two. 

As the lead VFX vendor, Cutting Edge were involved from inception to delivery, including script breakdown, design, VFX budget and on-set supervision, working closely with editorial during the edit and delivering final frames.