Check Out the ‘Invisible’ Special Effects of ‘Roma’

A lot of work went into making those taxidermied dog heads look real.

Roma” isn’t considered an FX showcase, with much of the acclaim for Alfonso Cuarón’s intimate period piece focusing on the black-and-white cinematography for which the writer-director won an Academy Award. But there’s more to those ostensibly low-key visuals than meets the eye, VFX supervisor Aaron Weintraub revealed in a CNET interview, with everything from taxidermied dog heads to flashing signs serving as examples of “invisible effects.”

“Alfonso felt they were lacking some realism … that they didn’t feel like actual dead dogs, so we replaced and augmented them with real dog elements,” Weintraub said of one scene that was more involved than it initially appears. “To us, ‘invisible effects’ are effects where the audience never thinks for a moment that any extra work in post production was involved to achieve the shot and that everything was built practically and photographed with the camera on a traditional set.”

Toronto-based Mr. X and MPC in London are the visual-effects houses responsible for those effects, some of which are present, fittingly enough, during a scene set in a movie theater:

That behind-the-curtains look reveals a number of before-and-after shots showing just how extensive the effects are in “Roma.” Mr. X, which produced the video, also worked on “Shazam,” “The Shape of Water,” and the upcoming “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.”

In hindsight, it’s unsurprising that “Roma” is more effects-driven than it seems given the visual style of Cuarón’s “Gravity” and “Children of Men.” Weintraub said he would be happy to work with him again: “Like all great filmmakers, he brings out the best in his collaborators.”

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