FREMONT, CA — Editor Alan Edward Bell recently used Blackmagic Design’s Fusion 9 Studio visual effects and motion graphics software during the editing the 20th Century Fox feature film Red Sparrow. The spy thriller stars Jennifer Lawrence as ballerina Dominika Egorova, who is recruited into Sparrow School, a secret Russian intelligence service. On the search for a mole within the Russian government, Dominika’s first target is an American CIA agent (Joel Edgerton). The film also stars Jeremy Irons, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Mary-Louise Parker. It was directed by Francis Lawrence.
Bell used Fusion Studio to create performance-enhancing VFX during the editing process.
“With performance-enhancing VFX, you merge together editing and compositing to get the best cut, whether you’re heightening actors’ performances, helping with cohesion, or adding impact,” Bell explains. “By using Fusion Studio within my editing workflow, I can easily merge together different takes or make subtle changes to help amplify a scene.”
In once case, Bell merged together actors’ performances from different takes.
“There is a scene after Dominika finishes her Sparrow training and is reunited with her mother,” he recalls. “In one take, Jennifer’s performance was very powerful, as it showed a sense of dread. However, in another take, they added a line that underscored her character’s determination and furthered her motivation. Instead of compromising on the performance or just slipping in the audio but not the visual, which is what editors have done in the past, I used Fusion Studio to combine the two takes together, layering Jennifer’s performances on top of each other. I used Fusion Studio’s new planar tracker to track and stabilize the image. I then composited Jennifer’s mouth out of the first shot, and morphed the mouths together. Dominika’s motivation for the rest of the film is colored by that line, so it was important that we got it in, and because of Fusion Studio I was able to do it seamlessly.”
Throughout the film, Larence’s Dominika character goes through varying stages of facial bruising and some hemorrhaging in her eyes. “Using Fusion Studio, I was able to enhance and smooth out the way Jennifer’s bruising looked while editing, so when we previewed the film it was seamless.”
The film makes use of many wide shots, which meant that Bell needed to rely on performance-enhancing VFX. Backgrounds often needed tweaking to get things to line up, he notes. “I frequently used Fusion Studio’s grid warper to make sure the background would match and that things were cohesive between cuts.”