International Cinema World Power Profile: Mr. Merzin Tavaria Chief Creative Director and Co-founder, Prime Focus World
Mr. Merzin Tavaria Chief Creative Director and Co-founder, Prime Focus World
In a career spanning over two decades Merzin has led and inspired global teams on multiple projects, and mentored the careers and lives of countless artists, professionals and producers. Merzin leads the creative services function and his many responsibilities span business development, customer relations, creative strategy, delivery planning, talent management, technology acquisition and financial oversight. As Chief Creative Director he oversees planning and delivery of shows for content markets including Hollywood and Bollywood. As Co-founder, Merzin champions creative collaboration, technology leverage and talent optimization through a sustainable global digital pipeline, one of our biggest trump cards in the industry. Merzin’s ability to manipulate technology platforms and passion to build new services have been the backbone of our expansion strategy.
20th Century Fox
Director Ridley Scott has created two of the most memorable and influential science fiction films in movie history in ‘Alien’ (1979) and ‘Bladerunner’ (1982); and now he is back with ‘The Martian’, based on the break-out novel by Andy Weir.
During a manned mission to Mars, astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is badly injured during a fierce storm and left for dead by his crew. He wakes to find himself stranded and alone on a hostile planet with just his wit, ingenuity and spirit to keep him alive.
‘The Martian’ was primarily shot with native stereo cameras, but there was an amount of footage that required stereo conversion. The production was UK-based, and Prime Focus World’s (PFW) stereo team in London was delighted to be called in by 20th Century Fox as main stereo conversion partner on the show.
“There were a number of different types of shots that required stereo conversion,” said PFW’s Senior Stereo Supervisor Richard Baker. “There was lots of ‘GoPro’ type footage from the cameras in the Mars rover, and Watney’s video messages back to NASA. There was live action footage that was shot mono – for example, the Times Square shots and helicopter footage of the landscapes that would be used to stand-in for the Martian surface. And then there were some big VFX shots that required conversion, including the space station shots – interiors and exteriors.”
PFW worked closely with show supervisors Gareth Daley (Stereo Supervisor) and Richard Stammers (VFX Supervisor) on ‘The Martian’, and the first task was to convert the theatrical trailer.
“Working on the trailer was a great way of establishing the look of the show, and developing a dialogue with the production,” said Richard. “Gareth’s background is in native stereography, and through the course of the trailer I was able to pick up his likes and dislikes, such as how he wanted the depth to fall off. By the time we started work on the main film we were very clear on what was required.”
In addition to developing the look of the stereo converted material with Gareth, the PFW team also needed to tweak their conversion pipeline to accommodate the stylised look of the film.
“Ridley sharpened the footage significantly in the DI as part of the visual style of the film, and this quickly became apparent during our work on the trailer,” continued Richard. “This had an effect on our conversion pipeline in that subtle edge issues that you might not notice on a normal plate became noticeable on the sharpened plate. We quickly set up a process that allowed me to review and approve both the native EXRs, and a set of DPXs with grade and sharpen applied. As a result we didn’t have any notes from DI for broken edges.”
There were a number of other challenges encountered in the course of the conversion work that PFW delivered for ‘The Martian’, including complicated crowd scenes with ticker tape falling and hundreds of people in shot. Another tricky aspect of the stereo conversion for this movie was the number of shots involving visors, as Richard explained:
“Close-up shots of characters with helmets and glass visors are difficult to handle in conversion due to reflections and smudges on the glass, and in the case of this film, due to the internal lights shining out from within the helmets,” he said. “Getting those looking really clean in stereo is tricky; Gareth has a very fine eye for detail, and we went to great lengths to ensure that they were perfect.”
PFW led the stereo conversion work on ‘The Martian’ out of its London facility, where it handled creative supervision and geo-creation. The conversion work itself was handled by PFW’s Mumbai team, headed up by Stereo Supervisor Jimmy Philip.
“What makes this project stand out for me is how beautiful the shots look,” concluded Richard. “Ridley has gone really wide on these massive landscapes, and they are awe-inspiring. Visually it’s a beautiful-looking film.”
Senior Stereo Supervisor – Richard Baker
Executive Producers – Rohan Desai, Matthew Bristowe, Gaurav Jain
Senior Producers – Valeria Andino, Franklin Mascarenhas
Stereo Production – Barry O’Brien, Jimmy Philip, Richard Edwards, subbu Pillai, Ravi Shetty, Marc Brzezicki, Chris Preston-Barnes, Rameez Mukaddam, Dan Hogg, Lewis ‘Sonny’ Menga, Dean Lewis, David Glover, Manu Jain, Himanshu Ajmera, Rahul Wagh, Deppali Katekar, Rohan Tirkey, Srikanthreddy Jakka, Puneet Samra, Amar Jariwala, Binoy Thomas, Alan Tormey, Kat Kelly, Vishal Patel, Naresh Rawat, Maria Asim Ali, Esme Coleman, Peter Bartfay, Mohit Varde, Arturs Vaitilavics
About Prime Focus World
Prime Focus World (PFW), a subsidiary of Prime Focus Limited, provides visual effects, 3D conversion and animation services to major media and entertainment companies. PFW has brought its expertise to many wide release Hollywood films including Avengers: Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, Gravity, Maleficent, Edge of Tomorrow, Noah, The Great Gatsby, World War Z, Men in Black 3, Star Wars: Episode I, II & III, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Avatar. Shows currently in production include Ant-Man, Terminator: Genisys, Tarzan and Alice in Wonderland: Through The Looking Glass.
Prime Focus World has global operations with a presence in key centers of creative content production – Los Angeles, Vancouver, London, Beijing and Mumbai.
In June 2014, Prime Focus World merged its VFX business with Double Negative, one of the foremost providers of visual effects to the global film industry.
For more details please visit www.primefocusworld.com
About Double Negative
Founded in 1998 with a team of just 30, Double Negative has grown to become one of the industry's success stories and is now Europe's largest independent provider of visual effects for Film (operating from locations in both London and Singapore).
Through steady and constant growth the Company has always sought to retain both the creative drive and involvement of its artists through all projects and a close collaborative working relationship with clients. This approach ensures films both small and large receive the same high standard of creative and technical service. This has proved a winning combination resulting in awards recognition from the Visual Effects Society (for Inception and Sherlock Holmes), BAFTA (for Interstellar, Inception and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2) and the Academy® Awards (for Interstellar and Inception).
Recent work includes Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ex Machina, Interstellar, Jupiter Ascending, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and Godzilla. Upcoming releases include Terminator: Genisys, Ant-Man, Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation, In The Heart of the Sea, SPECTRE, Miss Peregine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Hunger Games, Mockingjay Part 2, Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
For more details please visit www.dneg.com
Prem Ratan Dhan Payo
VFX, DI and Cameras by Prime Focus India
Written and directed by Sooraj Barjatya, produced by Rajshri Productions and distributed by Fox Star Studios, ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’ stars Salman Khan and Sonam Kapoor in the lead roles. Prime Focus provided VFX, DI and a wide range of cameras for the movie.
Prime Focus has worked very closely on most of the Salman Khan starrers. The association started with ‘Tumko Na Bhool Payenge’ which released in 2002, for which Prime Focus provided VFX work. Since then, Prime Focus has provided DI and VFX services for all his big films, including ‘Tere Naam’ (2003), ‘Mujhse Shaadi Karogi’ (2004), ‘No Entry’ (2005), ‘Partner’ (2007), ‘Wanted’ (2009), ‘Dabangg-2’ (2012), ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ (2012), ‘Jai Ho’ (2014), ‘Kick’ (2014), and most recently ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ (2015).
In addition to providing services for his maiden production venture ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ Prime Focus has also provided complete post services for his second production venture ‘Hero’, which released in 2015.
‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’ sees the return of Sooraj Barjatya to direction after a gap of 9 years (his last film was ‘Vivah’, which he directed in 2006). Sooraj trusted the experience and credibility of the Prime Focus team by entrusting them with nearly 80% of the films VFX, along with the DI work and camera rental.
Some of the VFX delivered by Prime Focus included the set extensions of the palace (for which Prime Focus created the concepts, which were approved by Sooraj, Art Director Nitin Desai and DOP Mani Kandan), the submerged village for the flood sequence, the football for the football song, and various cityscapes and crowd multiplications.
Stereo Conversion by Prime Focus World
Director Ridley Scott has created two of the most memorable and influential science fiction films of all time - ‘Alien’ (1979) and ‘Bladerunner’ (1982) - and his latest film sci-fi film, ‘The Martian’, is carving its own niche in movie-making history with an incredible run at the box-office.
‘The Martian’ was primarily shot with native stereo cameras, but there was a sizeable amount of footage that required stereo conversion, and Prime Focus World was delighted to be called in by 20th Century Fox as the main stereo conversion partner on the show.
PFW’s senior stereo supervisor Richard Baker worked closely with show stereographer Gareth Daley to ensure that the stereo converted material created by PFW sat perfectly with the natively captured stereo footage that Ridley had shot on set.
The PFW team handled the stereo conversion of a number of different types of footage for this show, from the ‘GoPro’ footage of the diary cameras, to live-action shots that had been captured mono (such as the scenes in Times Square back on Earth), to the big VFX shots of the interiors and exteriors of the ‘Hermes’ spacecraft and some drama shots that had been captured mono on RED Dragon cameras.
But perhaps the most arresting images in the film are the grand sweeping vistas of the Martian landscape – which had been shot mono from helicopters in the Jordan desert. These massive vistas presented stereo challenges in terms of the layering of the landscape as it stretched away towards the horizon, and Richard and the team created a stereo look with a more linear fall-off, allowing subtle layering between hills and mountains that could be as far as five or ten miles away. This helped to emphasize the sheer scale of the environment and to emphasize the isolation of Mark Watney, alone in this massive alien world.
PFW had to tweak its conversion pipeline to accommodate the stylised look of the show. Ridley was sharpening all of the footage significantly in DI as part of the visual style of the film – a process that emphasized subtle edge issues in stereo that only became noticeable on the sharpened plates. PFW quickly set up a process that allowed Richard to review and approve both the native EXRs and a set of sharpened and graded DPXs for each shot, to ensure that the stereo delivery was perfect first time.
A further challenge was dealing with the glass visors of the space suits – an issue that the PFW team first addressed during their work on ‘Gravity’. Reflections, smudges and spray on the visors were highlighted by LED lights within the helmets – this made getting the visors really clean in stereo particularly tricky, and required considerable work on the part of the stereo artists. Using scans provided by show production, the team match-moved in geo for the characters’ heads and helmets to create depth maps that ensured that reflections, refractions and surface marks were all faithfully rendered in stereo.
The results of all this work were stereo converted sequences that perfectly complemented and seamlessly sat alongside Ridley’s stunning, natively captured footage.
VFX by Double Negative
In 2014 Prime Focus World merged with Double Negative (Dneg), one of the world’s leading providers of visual effects to the Hollywood film industry. Recent projects completed by Double Negative include ‘Spectre’, ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2’ and ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’.
Unfortunately we do not have approval to discuss details of Dneg’s work on Spectre yet.