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Visual Effects
The visual effects challenges of Minority Report were not in the number of effects shots, but in the detailed elements and compositing of those elements that would need to be perfect to create a seamless representation of Spielberg's vision. The 481 visual effects shots in the film were divided up, with the majority of the work going to San Rafael, CA-based Industrial Light & Magic, which has played a vital role in numerous Spielberg films.

For Minority Report, the ILM team, led by Scott Farrar (Oscar nominee for A.I. Artificial Intelligence) created vast interior environments using digital set extensions and their groundbreaking proprietary software to create 3D modeled people. Further, ILM was intent on matching Janusz Kaminski's grainy and textured visual style. Farrar decided to shoot blue screen work on a very fine grain negative and degrade it to match the rest of the film. With the majority of the scenes taking place in broad daylight, the visual effects team had no place to hide.

One of the more complicated compositing sequences involved the master shots of the Mag-Lev traffic system within 21st century Washington, D.C. "This is a broad cityscape full of buildings, with rising steam and hundreds of cars, a tremendous number of elements," says compositing supervisor Scott Frankel. Add to that racing cars and their drivers, shadows and reflections, and the only physical element of the shot -- Tom Cruise who, when Anderton's car is recalled to Pre-Crime headquarters, must jump out of his own Mag-Lev vehicle and try to escape by leaping from car to car. "The blue screen element of Tom we shot against a blue screen," says Frankel. "The rest is completely synthetic."

Farrar shot aerial background plates of the Washington skyline, which then had to be augmented with touches of the city's newer development. "The idea of Minority Report was to somehow combine old and new," says Farrar. "The challenge was that no matter what we did, putting new buildings into pre-existing backgrounds, if you made it too fancy, too modern, too excessive, it stood out like a sore thumb. So, through Alex McDowell, and then our art director Alex Laurant, designing our futuristic buildings had to be pulled way back. We were trying to make it as gritty and real as possible. So, we've spent a lot of time trying to put the grit and texture of real city backgrounds into all the stuff that we're putting into the foreground."

The Hall of Containment sequences take place in a massive, 21st century "jail" in which the prisoners of Pre-Crime are kept in a coma-like state of suspended animation in which their crimes are played out on a continuous loop before their eyes. Spielberg and McDowell decided to use a nineteenth century prison model called a Pentopticon, which has a central tower surrounded by containment pods, that would have been converted into the Hall of Containment. "Layered on top of that old, hundred year old prison are these shiny, perfect tubes that are keeping these guys really in cold storage," McDowell describes. "The image that Steven came up originally with was that it would be almost like Arlington Cemetery, and when Anderton walked in it would appear to be a space full of grave stones. And then Gideon reveals that in fact the gravestone was just a cap of a tube full of people. So there's this great moment when this field of gravestones suddenly rises up out of the ground and you realize that there's, you know, thousands of people stored in this enormous space, stacked one on top of each other."


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