115 Crew Members
20th Century Fox
Overall VFX Supervisor
Mark O. Forker
Overall VFX Producer
Rodeo FX Crew
Mélanie La Rue
Our team was on set for the shooting of the miniaturized cityscape of old Manhattan and we then worked to bring the city to life with CG and lighting effects. Our team created various CG environments for the film as well as the fire and destruction effects for the climactic scene when the theater burns down.
The burning Barnum theatre was built from different elements. We used a mix of custom practical fire on gas pipes that we shot with the exact measurements of the windows, and we controlled the strength of the flames with the pipes to recreate the progression of the fire through the sequence. We also used CG fire for the lighting interaction with the CG extension of the building, and CG ashes and embers to connect all the shots together. The collapse of the building was all done in Houdini and comped in Nuke.
One of our most challenging sequences features three young kids running into the circus. The plate for this sequence was entirely green screen, with just the actors in place. Our team created dig-doubles of the actors and built the entire shot, including the reflection of the circus tent on a puddle and the water effects as the kids step into the puddle. All of the landscape, from the snow on the ground to the sky, including the iconic circus tent, was created in CG.
I had the pleasure of being on set in Brooklyn to supervise shooting over the miniature set. Director Michael Gracey wanted the movie to have a very specific look and to show that it was created using miniatures. Usually, we aim to create the most realistic assets but for The Greatest Showman we aimed for an unrealistic environment, which was a fun change.
Our team discussed on set with Michael Gracey and Jamie Price how we to bring the miniature shots to life, introducing the miniature and painterly backdrop sky effects on all the environment shots.
We recreated the entire environment from scratch and matchmoved the children to create all interaction with the puddle, the snow and also to get shadows and contacts on the ground. The entire environment, including the Brooklyn bridge, was modelled, texture and lit. We used CG crowd animation for the surroundings and inside the tent. Of course following the artistic direction of the movie, we had to keep the miniature and painterly back drop aspect even in the full CG shots.