A-List: Creating a VFX tightrope
for The Walk
Visual effects supervisor Kevin Baillie talks about working with Robert Zemeckis on the director’s latest
By Iain Blair
Oscar-winner Bob Zemeckis has always been at the cutting edge of
technology and highly skilled at integrating that technology in the telling
of stories in such films as
Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger
Rabbit?, The Polar Express, Beowulf and Flight.
Now, in The Walk, he’s putting moviegoers in the shoes of Philippe Petit, the French aerialist who in 1974 stunned New Yorkers — and the world — with his high-wire walk between the iconic towers of the almost-completed World Trade Center.
“When I first heard this story, I thought, ‘My God, this is a movie that A: should be made under any circumstance, and B: should be absolutely presented in 3D,’ explains Zemeckis. “When you watch a wire walker, you always have to watch by looking up at him. You never get the perspective of what it’s like to be on the wire.”
But aided by DP Dariusz Wolski and VFX supervisor Kevin Baillie, Zemeckis has made an epic, big-screen spectacle that gives audiences that vertigo-inducing “you-are-on-the-wire” perspective and the chance to go where only one man has been or ever will be — 110 stories in the air, walking between the twin towers.
I spoke with Baillie — whose Atomic Fiction studio has locations in Oakland, LA and Montreal — about working with Zemeckis and creating the VFX.
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