The past few years have seen anti-CGI sentiment rise among film fans who came of age when matte paintings, miniatures and stop-motion animation were the tools of the special effects trade. This year alone has seen many lionize George Miller’s invigorating “Mad Max: Fury Road” for being what most sane fans want: a harmonious blending of practical in-camera effects/stunt work and very considered use of CGI. However, one of the other great recent examples of this marriage of techniques is last year’s divisive “Interstellar.”
As far back as ten years ago on “Batman Begins,”Christopher Nolan was relying heavily on miniatures and large sets to conjure up his visions on screen, using CG to augment and convincingly composite the old-school effects work. Nolan went further on his ambitious sci-fi epic, eschewing green screen in favor of using projections of both completed CG-visual effects work and pre-viz to help his actors ground themselves — as well as giving DP Hoyte Van Hoytema practical light to work off of. As seen on a bonus feature from the Blu-ray titled “Across All Dimensions and Time,” the intermingling of both the old-school and new-school effects work reached its apex during — SPOILER ALERT — the much discussed “Tesseract” scene in the film where both a small — but still quite large — section of the set was built practically with the visual effects team helping to extend and augment it.
Meant to be a representation of the fifth dimension — or something like that, right? — the so-called tesseract was described abstractly in the script by Nolan and his brother — even having seen the film, it’s still hard to adequately describe — so it fell to production designer Nathan Crowley and visual effects supervisor Paul Franklin to help Nolan create what that would look like on screen. For anyone unsure of how CG and practical effects can work hand-in-hand, or just a fan of effects work and the film in general, the video is a fascinating watch.
Watch “Across All Dimensions and Time” below and pick up “Interstellar” on DVD, Blu-ray or VOD today.