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Cinesite Wraps Visual Effects for Ocean's Eleven

Director Steven Soderbergh's remake of 1960 Rat Pack film By DMN Staff Writer
Cinesite has wrapped some 40 visual effects shots for Warner Bros. Pictures' Ocean's Eleven, director Steven Soderbergh's remake of the classic 1960 rat pack film of the same name. Approximately 10 shots required complete CG environments and backgrounds, and others drew on CG techniques to extend real set pieces that had been filmed in live-action scenes.

"On a reality-based film like this, it's our obligation to help the director enhance the story with illusions that are absolutely transparent to the audience," says Cinesite Visual Effects Supervisor Tom Smith. In Ocean's Eleven, wry, charismatic con man Danny Ocean (George Clooney) is paroled from prison and immediately begins orchestrating his latest plan-to pull off the most daring heist in the history of Las Vegas. The film's ensemble all-star cast also includes Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts.

One complicated visual effects sequence takes place in an elevator shaft leading to an underground vault. The shaft is equipped with laser detection devices to foil intruders. The heist team slides down the shaft on descender rigs, and are followed later by a rappelling SWAT team.

Smith shot blue screen elements of the elevator shaft sequence at an airport hangar with a 70-foot ceiling. Soderbergh wanted to shoot the stunt guys dropping at least 35 feet towards and away from the camera for a true realistic effect.

"They defeat the laser detectors by shutting the power off in the entire city," Smith explains. "At that moment we had some red light on the characters. As they get closer to the bottom, green glowsticks that the characters are carrying motivate dramatic rim light. We played with the highlights and density until Steven was happy with the look and felt it was believable."

Smith says that Soderbergh did as much in-camera as possible.

"That pays off in heightened realism," he says. "For example, there's one very nice establishing shot where we're looking down the shaft and the lasers all tilt up. The shot tilts up, and there's all kinds of lens distortion and lens flares which helps make it seem like all one piece. Halfway up the tilt, we transition from the CG shaft to the practical shaft, where we see Matt Damon's character hanging from the elevator."

Another important effects shot shows Las Vegas going dark section by section. "We shot the plate at dusk before they turned all the lights out, so there are almost no shadows," says Smith. "Then we color graded it to look like night. When the shutdown happens, lights go out, and all the signature Las Vegas billboard activity stops. The shot lasts about four seconds."

This is Cinesite's fourth outing with Soderbergh. They also worked on Erin Brockovich, Out of Sight and Traffic.

"He understands the possibilities of today's bleeding edge effects," Smith says, "and he's clear about what he wants to do and that makes our job easier. The visual effects shots were planned from the beginning of film, and that can make all the difference."

With facilities in Hollywood and London, Cinesite provides a wide range of visual and physical effects, digital film mastering, digital film restoration, preservation and DVD services. Cinesite is a Kodak subsidiary and part of the company's Entertainment Imaging division. For more information, visit the Cinesite website at

About Ocean's Eleven
Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures and NPV Entertainment, a Jerry Weintraub/Section Eight production, Ocean's Eleven, starring (in alphabetical order) George Clooney, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts. The film also stars Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Don Cheadle, Elliot Gould, Bernie Mac and Carl Reiner.

Directed by Steven Soderbergh from a screenplay by Ted Griffin, Ocean's Eleven is produced by Jerry Weintraub. The co-producer is R.J. Louis. John Hardy, Susan Ekins and Bruce Berman are the executive producers. Jeffrey Kurland is the costume designer; Stephen Mirrione, A.C.E. is the editor; Philip Messina is the production designer; and the music is composed by David Holmes. Ocean's Eleven will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures and AOL Time Warner Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.

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Related Keywords:Oceans Eleven, visual effects, Cinesite, CG


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