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They Shoot, We Score!

Framestore CFC creates 107 VFX shots for Goal!, does DI

Directed by Danny Cannon (CSI, Judge Dredd) and set amid the heart-pounding atmosphere of international football, Goal! opens in the UK on 30th September and throughout Europe during October. Produced by Mike Jefferies, Matt Barrelle and Mark Huffam, Goal! stars up and coming Latino actor Kuno Becker, and features Anna Friel and Stephen Dillane, as well as a host of top representatives from the world of international football, including David Beckham, Zinédine Zidane, Raul, and Alan Shearer.

When Santiago Munez (Kuno Becker) crosses the Mexican border into America at the age of 10, he has two things in his possession: his soccer ball and a picture of the World Cup. Growing up in L.A., he loves the game, but sees little hope of realising his football dreams. But when he is spotted by Brit Glen Foy (Stephen Dillane) at a local match, his life is transformed utterly. He travels halfway around the world to join Newcastle United, on the first step of his journey to international stardom. Muddy fields, cold winds and crunching blows from team mates, not to mention personal woes, injuries, and the temptations of life as an international footballer are just a few of the obstacles Santiago must overcome.

The producers of Goal! were looking for two key elements in the post production. Firstly, they needed an economical means of 'filling' football stadia with crowds in excess of 50,000 people. This would have to be completely convincing, with the VFX footage seamlessly integrated into the rest of the film. Secondly, they needed a Digital Intermediate that would offer a range of range of looks for the dramatically different locations (Mexico, L.A., Newcastle) in which the action takes place. In Framestore CFC they found a single facility that could service both these needs to the very highest standard.

During pre-production, Mark Nelmes, VFX Supervisor at Framestore CFC, devised a solution that sidestepped the fashionable (but very expensive) CG crowd generating software route. Nor, he says, was simple replication of extras the answer. "With 52,000 seats to fill at St James' Park (Newcastle United's ground), and 500 extras to play with, that would have meant up to 100 replications for each camera angle," says Nelmes, "Which is uneconomical, to say the least."

"So we shot in various ways – steadicam, pan and tilt, tracking shots etc. - in the empty grounds. Some of the actors were footballers, some doubles. We then went back on match days and shot similar camera angles, putting the camera roughly where it had been in the shot we wanted the crowd for. We'd wait until the action moved up the other end (thus clearing the foreground of players) and then shoot the crowd reacting - cheering or whatever - and then tracked this into our camera moves." Nelmes was delighted with the results. "Everyone is seated in their normal spots - they're season ticket seats – where they would have been if the game were real. So texturally everything felt correct, with people moving around, buying pies and so forth. It didn't need any enhancement from us." After a test shoot at a Newcastle United v. Manchester United game, real matches between Newcastle United and Chelsea, Liverpool and Crystal Palace were shot at St. James' Park, as well as a Newcastle away game at Fulham's Craven Cottage, which provided some 'concentrated' Newcastle fan shots.

Framestore CFC created 107 VFX shots for Goal!. Heading the team of Shake artists was Digital VFX Supervisor Anthony Smith. "Once we got into a rhythm, most of the shots were pretty straightforward," he recalls, "But there were a few that needed special attention. The trickiest shot was one where Santiago comes out onto the Newcastle pitch for the first time as a 1st team player. The camera pans around him through 360º, showing you what it feels like to be the focus of 50,000 pairs of eyes. We had 150 or so extras around the entrance, to give that area a strong grounding, and the entire hand held camera pan was 3D tracked by Joe Leveson. There were loads of track points all over the grounds, so I could use those in 2D to 'corner-pin' patches of crowd in and build them up from there. With Martin Taylor's roto work, it was just a matter of cutting out the bits of crowd I didn't need. It was relatively simple, but long and painstaking – the shot took a week to do."

Smith is also quick to acknowledge the role played by the Framestore CFC Digital Lab team. "Without the grade it just wouldn't have worked," he says, "The raw material came from such disparate sources. The action for the games in the film was, to an extent, based around the premiership matches that they'd actually filmed, and the added crowds would have been done under quite different lighting and weather conditions, so a perfect DI match was an essential part of the process."

Senior Colourist Adam Glasman takes up the story. "Job one was getting the VFX shots to match," he agrees, "Danny (Cannon, Director) was looking for a really crisp look for the matches, so we added plenty of contrast, pushed the highlights and graded the VFX material very carefully." Working with the new Baselight 8 software, Glasman spent an initial week with Cinematographer Michael Barrett, and a further six days with Danny Cannon. Glasman also helped create dramatically contrasting looks for the film. "Mexico and L.A., where Santiago starts out, are bathed in a warm and golden light. They'd used some tobacco grads, but much of that gold was added in post," he says, "And of course Newcastle is a much 'cooler' look."

There are two planned Goal! sequels, the first of which will take Santiago to one of Europe's top teams, before ultimate glory in the 2006 World Cup in the final film.

Director: Danny Cannon
Producers: Mike Jefferies, Matt Barrelle and Mark Huffam
Director of Photography: Michael Barrett
A Milkshake Films Production

Visual Effects by Framestore CFC
Visual Effects Supervisor Mark Nelmes
Visual Effects Producer Tim Keene
Visual Effects Line Producer Charles Howell
Digital Visual Effects Supervisor Anthony Smith
Compositors John Peck, Sule Bryan-Hurst, Marco Checa Garcia, Niki Bern
Digital Paint Artists Aled Prosser, Tara Walker, Tim Young, Howard Protheroe, Martin Taylor, Rebecca Manning, Tom Baskaya
Animation Supervisor Kevin Spruce
Animator Ross Burgess
TD Alan Woods
Trackers Paolo Mitton, Joe Leveson
Head of VFX Editorial Roz Lowrie
VFX AVID Editor Richard Poet
VFX Film & DI Editorial Gavin Round
VFX Editorial Assistant Kerry Downing
Head of Render Support Alex Hessler
Render Support Rob Richardson
Head of Systems Support Christophe Meslin
Systems Support Engineer Kim Loan Do
Head of Data Operations Cal Sawyer
Data Operations Maggie Walby

Framestore CFC Digital Intermediate
Colourist Adam Glasman
Producer Maria Stroka
Senior Producer Claire McGrane
Executive Producer Jan Hogevold
Digital Assembly Brian Krijgsman
Scanning and Recording Manager Andy Burrow
Scanning, Recording and Digital Clean Up Dan Perry, Annabel Wright, Jonathan Dredge, Paola Varvaro, Joe Godfrey, Paul Doogan, Jason Burnett, Tom Bunnell, Gareth Jones, Benedict Gillingham-Sutton, Peter Forson, Adam Hawkes
Data Operators Dianne Gordon, Charlie Habanananda, Maria Michalopoulou, Stuart Nippard
Film Mastering Engineers Alistair Hamer and Kevin Lowery

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Related Keywords:Danny Cannon , Goal!, Framestore CFC

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