SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD
Instead of the typical, technical 3-D previsualization done for many films, the
previz for Scott Pilgrim was created in homage to the graphic style of O'Malley's novels,
with additional animated elements inserted to round it out. During the pitching phase of
the project, a black-and-white animatic was designed to give the look and feel of the first
fight, the one in which Scott Pilgrim faces off against Matthew Patel.
With panels taken straight from the pages of the books, Scott Pilgrim was
designed by blending a mixture of references to Japanese anime and video games from
multiple eras. This allowed for a concept piece that illustrated the energy Wright wanted
for his live-action. Before the project was green-lit, this animatic became the basis for a
live-action test to convince the studio the film was feasible.
As the project moved into full production, U.K.-based VFX company DOUBLE
NEGATIVE—with additional work from Toronto-based digital studio MR. X—created
similar animatics for the remaining fight sequences, performances and other parts of the
film that would benefit from bringing the comics to life. The majority of Mr. X's work
involved cleanup and simplification of practical locations, as well as adding stylized
Once preproduction began, the entire film was storyboarded by Oscar Wright in
the style of the novels. Wright was responsible for crafting the film's concept art and
graphics. Wherever possible, exact panels from the books were duplicated to set up
shots, and then coverage was filled in to flesh them out for the film version. The visuals
were always imagined by asking a simple question: Is this something that Bryan would
Each day of shooting, the storyboards were distributed to the crew, who used the
panels to compose the live-action shots. The production design and art direction were
underpinned with the constant focus on graphic simplification in line with the comic
artwork, which flowed through every element of the design—including sets, wardrobe
Because of practical considerations, it wasn't always possible to maintain this
look through the art department alone; naturally, VFX became heavily involvedâ€¦
especially on location. Though the film is shot in Toronto, the teams had to extend a
good deal of the location shots to achieve the hyper real look Wright wanted (e.g., as
Scott and Ramona walk through snow to the swings). As it was impossible to blanket an
entire street with perfect-looking snow in the middle of the summer, much of the team's
work involved simplifying the look of practical locations and dressing them in the wintry
style of the film.
For the VFX crews, the hero text graphics (once animated) became a favorite part
of the production. On set, the teams would overlay a simple static graphic on the
so shots could be composed. Once they were rendered, it was exciting to see
memorable copy from O'Malley's novels burned across the screen.
Approximately six months before preproduction began, production designer
Rowland began prescouting locations. Because O'Malley drew a fair number of his
exterior panels while looking at the actual locations that inspired him (e.g., Wallace's
apartment, Wychwood Library, Goodwill, Stephen Stills' place, Ramona's apartment, the
house in which Scott grew up and Knives' high school), the team was fortunate enough to
use the actual locales described in the books.
VFX team members accompanied Rowland and took still photographs that
precisely matched the angle and composition of the panels in the books. From there, they
put together a package that showed each of the locations with various levels of
simplification—ranging from the photographs by themselves to looks that precisely
matched O'Malley's style. With Wright's guidance, the c
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