Toronto: January 15, 2009 … Max Manus represents a breakthrough in Norwegian cinema, and Fusion(tm), the award-winning compositing application from eyeon Software Inc., played a key role in the success of the production. Directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, Max Manus tells the story of the famous saboteur who fought the Nazis during the German occupation of Norway in the Second World War. Produced at a cost of just 8 million USD (55,000,000 Norwegian Kroner), the film provides a big budget experience thanks to a brilliant production team and high-end tools, such a seyeon Fusion.
Max Manus is one of the largest productions in Norwegian film history. The project involved transforming modern-day Oslo into a 1940’s version of itself and filling the city with hundreds of Nazi soldiers. In total, 1,800 extras were used for the film. VFX shots included the sinking of the SS Donau, an authentic recreation of Oslo harbour, bomber aircraft flying overhead, exterior shots, such as the Gestapo headquarters at the Victoria Terrace, and many others. “Because of the scale of the visual effects work we needed to do, this film was the first domestic production to farm out shots across multiple facilities,” said VFX Supervisor Oystein Larsen of Toxic A/S in Oslo, who honed his craft on the Matrix sequels. “Lab work was done in Germany, final grading was done at MPC in London, and in between we had five facilities here in Norway on VFX. To ensure we kept all the image data, we built a floating-point pipeline, anchored in Fusion.”
“We chose Fusion because it’s the complete package,” said Marcus Brodersen, VFX and post producer on Max Manus. “With a limited budget, we needed the full feature set of a mature application.” Working against a tight deadline required an efficient pipeline. Routine tasks, such as roto, tracking and keying – were done in-house at Filmkameratene, the production company. “The plates were then sent out to the other facilities for the artistic work,” explained Brodersen. “Fusion was the common element and it worked really well as a collaborative tool.”
Fusion’s 3D environment proved critical for the project. “There was only one locked shot in the whole movie,” laughed Brodersen. “The FBX input sped up our work a lot and one facility, Gimpville, even used Fusion to stabilise a whole sequence by mapping the camera positions and then ‘re-shooting’ the whole take in Fusion!”
One particularly difficult scene – depicting a raid on German shipping – was shot on water at night. “Fortunately we had done accurate pre-viz modelling based on lidar scans beforehand,” explained Oystein Larsen. “We used the 3D mapping in Fusion to take the shots apart and add the CG elements, such as matte painting. The results were fantastic. No one would ever think this was a composite.”
“It was really exciting to work on this project: this is a story we feel quite strongly about here in Norway,” said Larsen. Clearly the public shares his sentiment. The opening weekend box office returns for Max Manus in December set a new record in Norway and attendance is currently on track to surpass Titanic, as the Nordic nation’s highest grossing film.
“It doesn’t always take a huge budget to make a great feature film,” said Joanne Dicaire, Director of Sales and Marketing at eyeon. “With great artists, and the right tools, it can be done without breaking the bank. We’re delighted to have contributed to this milestone in Norwegian cinema.”
eyeon Fusion offers a full 2D and 3D compositing environment including a 3D particle system, comprehensive integration with 3D animation packages, non-destructive floating-point color correction, paint, keying, roto-scoping, advanced lookup tables, character generation, and more. Fusion 5.31 is available from eyeon and eyeon’s international network of resellers. For more information, visit www.eyeonline.com.