CATEGORY: Feature Films VFX
Coming on board with the post production team of Ready Player One, we were briefed to create rich graphic elements to support director Steven Spielberg’s story and vision for the real and virtual worlds of this action-packed film
The challenge was to help tell this fast-paced story through the creation of bespoke graphic devices and rich narrative-driven content that supported and enhanced action, performance, character development and world building.
Set in two worlds - the physical world and the virtual reality of the Oasis – action and plot points jump between characters and locations in the real world and their VR avatars and environments. We worked in close collaboration with Digital Domain on graphic assets for the real world of Columbus, and with ILM to create CG graphic assets for the virtual world of the Oasis.
It was particularly important to make audiences feel comfortable transitioning between the two, and graphic elements proved an ideal bridge between the CG environment of the Oasis and the dystopian world of 2045.
To create a consistent bridge between the two worlds using graphics and content, we designed visual languages for the main characters and brands that feature in both real and virtual worlds.
Paying homage to author Ernest Cline’s 1980’s nostalgia, our creative concepts for character Heads Up Displays (HUDs) delivered a generic Gregarious Simulation Systems (GSS) user interface (UI) framework based on the bright warm colour tones of early console and arcade games, with a personalised approach to avatar logo, colour palette and graphic style that established character, reflected personality, status and activity. In stark contrast, the corporate Innovative Online Industries (IOI) entity features a cold high tech and militaristic aesthetic that was applied across all IOI characters and environments, with personalised embellishments for the main IOI character.
The creative technology interface concepts for visor / HUDs illustrate the power of narrative elements to bridge the two worlds. Approaching the visor UI from a product approach, we considered game elements (power, game, points, score, inventory, damage, etc) and narrative content to give context to what the character was experiencing in the Oasis. Similarly, the HUDs first person points of view put the audience into the mind and experience of the character, allowing them to share the excitement and energy of the action.
Animated content layers add detail that helps to explain plot points and enrich audience perception of each character and their status and role in the Oasis. Tying into story beats from one moment to the next, these elements help to frame action and context, character interaction and backstories.
Similarly we applied graphic devices to enhance audience understanding of key narrative points. Our in-shot slit-scan inspired tunnel transition from the real to virtual world (as the main character puts on his visor and logs into the OASIS for the first time in the film) demonstrates the narrative value of this graphic sequence to immediately establish the excitement, contrast and potential of the VR world.
Delivering over 265 VFX shots and over 80 unique assets, we fleshed out environments, creating UI for visors and glass screens (wall screens, tablets, table displays, etc) in the real world, and created HUDs, displays, signage and specific graphic devices that tied into complex storybeats in the Oasis.
Creative Director – Andrew Popplestone
Creative Lead – Sam Munnings
Creative Lead – Sam Keehan
Anthony De Connick
Executive Creative Director – David Sheldon-Hicks
Senior Producer – Genevieve McMahon
VFX Line Producer – Alex Reinach
Pipeline TD - Sean Feeley
ILM VFX Supervisor Roger Guyett
Digital Domain VFX Supervisor Matthew Butler
Shotgun, Adobe CCS , After Effects, Cinema 4D, Nuke, Maya, Deadline, Arnold