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
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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