Workflow Breakdown of Every 2021 Oscars Best Picture Nominee

Lisa McNamara
April 26, 2021
Frame.io Insider

It’s probably fair to say that the 2021 Academy Awards were unlike any others. How do we count all the ways?

A global pandemic that shuttered productions and theaters. Distribution of first-run films over streaming services or with premium per-view rental prices. A raft of indie-style films made on shoestring budgets. Big-budget blockbusters pushing their release dates to 2021 and beyond, taking them out of the race. A ceremony broadcast that was not just delayed by two months, but was entirely reconceived and relocated from the Dolby Theatre to Los Angeles’s Union Station, with acceptance speeches uninterrupted by orchestras and time limits.

It’s also the first year that Frame.io made a big splash at the Oscars, used on three of the nominated films (including Best Film Editing and Best Sound winner Sound of Metal), as well as the broadcast show itself. And we’re even doing our own coverage a little differently, splitting the Best Picture nominees and Best Film Editing nominees into two separate articles to give you a deeper dive into the processes, both technical and creative.

And yet, there are the ways in which the spirit of the Oscars remains very much the same. First-timers and foreign films challenging established directors with an acclaimed body of work. The novelty of having a woman (never mind two) nominated for Best Picture—with Chloé Zhao as only the second woman to claim the win. The snubs of Black directors like Spike Lee, Regina King, and perhaps most pointedly, Shaka King, whose Judas and the Black Messiah was nominated for Best Picture.

But all of that aside, the Oscars are still a much-anticipated yearly tradition for those of us who love cinema.

We’re excited to present our fourth-annual Oscars Workflow Roundup! We’ll dig into the workflows of the eight films nominated for Best Picture and consider how this strange and unprecedented year has played out—and what it might mean for the future of how movies are both made and consumed.

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Shot Talk: Mank, with Director David Fincher and Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt

Lawrence Sher, ASC
April 18, 2021
Shotdeck

We’re extremely excited to share with you the latest addition of our Shot Talk interview series. Legendary filmmaker David Fincher and his incredible cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt sit down with cinematographer Lawrence Sher to discuss their 10x Oscar-nominated film Mank.

This episode has the kind of technical deep-dive discussions that you’re not gonna get anywhere else, including the philosophy of black and white vs. color cinematography, detailed FX breakdowns on several important scenes from the film, and why Fincher avoids Steadicam at all costs.

Along with the interview, we’re also releasing a bunch of great shots from the film, so you can start adding them to your decks and getting inspired right away!

But before you dive in and watch the filmmaking mini-masterclass above… make sure to go check out Mank, streaming now on Netflix.

Sign up for an account at ShotDeck, the world’s first fully-searchable film image database. It’s an invaluable research and educational resource that makes life easier for anyone in Film, Media, Advertising, and Education.

If you are creative, Shotdeck is the place to get inspired and discover new films and talented artists through our meticulously tagged database of still images, all while saving you time.

Search by film title, keyword, location, color, or a dozen other criteria to quickly find the exact “shots” you need to communicate your vision for your next project.

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Deep Focus: Erik Messerschmidt, ASC

Portrait by Eli Ade on the Savannah, GA set of Devotion

Director of Photography – Mank

Erik Messerschmidt, ASC (Instagram)
April 2021
ICG Magazine

On set, David Fincher prioritizes time with the actors more than anything else, so most of our work is done in the prep. In terms of Mank, we spent much of that prep time discussing how we could incorporate the visual language of black and white cinema into our own version of the story. We wanted to transport the audience to the time period without too much pastiche. It was a delicate balance.

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Ollin VFX Delivers Mank Shots During Lockdown

March 22, 2021
postPerspective

Mexico City-based Ollin VFX specializes in creating computer-generated imagery for television and film. Run by co-founder/president Alejandro Diego, the company works with clients worldwide to provide concept design, previz and postviz, 2D compositing, 3D/CG effects and animation.

Work is spread out between Ollin’s headquarters in Mexico City and artists in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, India and Hollywood. Their visual effects work can be seen in films like JumanjiGodzillaDeadpool and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

When COVID-19 necessitated a lockdown that required their artists work from home, they were faced with how to meet fast-approaching deadlines for two major projects: an Amazon-original zombie TV series called Operation 8888 and David Fincher’s Mank, a movie about screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz’s development of the 1941 classic Citizen Kane.

Mank was shot black and white in 6K resolution — much higher quality than the usual 2K or 4K — which made the creation of visual effects creatively challenging due to the variations in shades of gray.

“Immediately, all of our artists started working from home and connecting via VPN to their workstation at the office,” explains Diego. When the lockdown happened in March, the studio needed to figure out a reliable and fast way for everyone to easily access and work on files ranging in size from a few MB to several GB from multiple remote locations.

Ollin had just started using DEI’s ExpeDat, accelerated file transport software, a few months before COVID-19 hit. When the shutdown happened, Diego accepted an offer from DEI to increase capacity to their existing ExpeDat license, from four to eight and at no additional cost, to help accommodate their increased demand for ingest and other file transfer activities. Having this kind of workflow setup helped Ollin as they created and delivered VFX for Mank. We reached out to Diego to find out more about his studio’s workflow.

Read the full interview

Mank’s Monochrome Effects

Mike Seymour
March 14, 2021
fxguide

Mank is nominated for 10 Academy awards in this year’s 93rd Oscars in categories such as Best Picture, Lead Actor, and Best Director. It is also nominated for the VES award for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature. The film follows screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz’s tumultuous development of Orson Welles’ iconic masterpiece Citizen Kane (1941).

There were several VFX supervisors nominated, Simon Carr (Territory Studio), Wei Zheng (Artemple), James Pastorius (Savage VFX), along with Peter Mavromates. In many respects, director David Fincher could have also been nominated for VFX. The director is himself an expert in visual effects and was a very active contributor to the film’s effect work. Peter Mavromates is a long-time collaborator with David Fincher and was officially the Co-producer, Post Supervisor and VFX Producer on the film. Additionally, Pablo Helman at ILM was key in creating the CG animals at the San Simeon zoo.

The film had its roots going back over 20 years. “We had a false start about 20 years ago, around 1999. The script had been written at that time but it never happened for a number of reasons,” Mavromates comments. “Probably a contributing factor was that it was black and white and if you weren’t Woody Allen in the 90s, you couldn’t shoot black and white. Even Mel Brooks had to change producers for Young Frankenstein because the studio wouldn’t let him shoot black and white and he had to find another studio.”

The movie finished filming about 2 weeks before the W.H.O. declared the COVID pandemic in Feb 2020. This meant nearly all the VFX was done using remote protocols at each of the VFX vendors.

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The ‘Mank’ scene that best encapsulates its 10 Oscar nominations

Christopher Rosen
March 30, 2021
Gold Derby

No movie received more Oscar nominations in 2021 than David Fincher’s “Mank,” a Hollywood throwback about Herman Mankiewicz (Best Actor nominee Gary Oldman), Marion Davies (Best Supporting Actress nominee Amanda Seyfried), and the writing process behind Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane.” With 10 total nominations — including Best Picture, Best Director for Fincher, Best Actor for Oldman, Best Supporting Actress for Seyfried, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Hair & Makeup, Best Sound, Best Visual Effects, and Best Score — the lavish black-and-white Netflix film is just the 96th feature in Academy Awards history to receive double-digit citations and the second-most lauded Fincher effort behind only “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

With a project comprised of so many academy-endorsed contributions, it might be difficult to imagine one single scene representing the sum of the whole. But nestled within the complex structure of Jack Fincher’s time-hopping screenplay is a sequence that combines all 10 of the “Mank” nominations and shows how each department and performance elevated the next: Mank and Marion’s stroll through San Simeon.

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A Conversation with the Editors of David Fincher’s Motion Picture MANK

Meagan Keane
March 24, 2021
Adobe

Join Adobe for an exciting discussion with the editorial team from Netflix’s Mank featuring special guests Kirk Baxter, ACE, first assistant editor Ben Insler, and assistant editor Jennifer Chung. The team goes behind-the-scenes of the critically-acclaimed, Oscar nominated film to share their creative editing process and collaborative workflows for in-house VFX. Learn how they crafted a modern-day homage to one of the most celebrated films of all time, and overcame the challenges of a remote workflow using Premiere Pro Productions and After Effects.

Kirk Baxter, ACE, has been recognized with Academy Awards for his work on The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, an Academy Award nomination for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and multiple nominations from the American Cinema Editors. The Australian native is a long-time collaborator of David Fincher, including five of the director’s films and two of his series, Mindhunter and House of Cards.

Ben Insler currently works as a feature film assistant editor in Los Angeles, most recently on David Fincher’s Mank. He has previously assisted on television series, documentaries, and commercials, as well as edited for television, independent features and numerous shorts.

Jennifer Chung is an assistant editor working in Los Angeles. Originally from the midwest, she graduated with a BFA in Cinema Art + Science from Columbia College Chicago. She works in scripted tv and film, most recently on the “Blindspotting” series and David Fincher’s “Mank”. Along with assisting, she has also edited numerous shorts, music videos and promotional content.

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ILM: Mank VFX Breakdown

Mar 17, 2021
Industrial Light & Magic

Behind the Magic: The Visual Effects of MANK

ILMVFX (YouTube)

Take a look behind the invisible visual effects of ‘Mank’. ILM contributed a series of shots to the film including the various animals housed at the Hearst Castle private zoo. We created a host of photo-real CG animals to complete the scenes featuring capuchin monkeys, giraffe, elephants, and their environs such as the ornate wrought-iron victorian-era monkey’s enclosure and the gated grass area housing the roaming elephants and giraffe.

Director: David Fincher
ILM Visual Effects Supervisor: Pablo Helman
ILM Animation Supervisor: Mathew Cowie
ILM Associate Visual Effects Supervisor: Sherry Hitch
ILM Executive Visual Effects Producer: Erin Dusseault
ILM Visual Effects Producer: Flannery Huntley
ILM Associate Vfx Producer: Andrew Poole
ILM Studios: San Francisco, Vancouver