Outdoors, he let the hot sun go. “It was fitting to have a harsher feel to the sunlight in those environments,” he observes. “We weren’t flying big overheads or anything like that.”
When Rhodes perceives the threat Max poses, she activates a vicious bounty hunter, Kruger (Sharlto Copley), who visits Max’s love interest (played by Alice Braga). “That scene was interesting in that Alice and her little girl had to look great in an otherwise terrible environment,” Opaloch says. “Even though it’s in a garbage heap, we wanted their home to have a warm, inviting feel, as though it’s protected from all the terrible stuff going on outside the door. We played an 18K Fresnel with ½ CTS through a set window on Alice, and when Kruger comes to the door looking for Max, she’s standing in a beautiful hot backlight, while he’s hit with hard frontal sunlight. That was one of those scenes where it all worked out well.”
Kruger, who is also outfitted with a powerful exoskeleton, finally catches up with Max on Elysium, where they battle it out on a moving gantry. Opaloch and Rumak used moving lights, primarily automated daylight Vari-Lite VL3000s, to suggest the machinery’s motion. “We had them circling the set, so no matter where Matt and Sharlto were, there was a backlight on them,” says Rumak. “They were so punchy that they knocked down any blue spill from the bluescreens, which were lit with [Kino Flo] Image 85s. We soft-keyed the actors but had hard edges on them.” Lighting on the gantry itself was much like industrial streetlighting; the art department made “fixtures” that contained LEDs.
A smaller gantry leads Max into the protocol room, a white chamber that has pink vegetation hanging from the middle of the ceiling and a glass floor offering a view of Earth. “The challenge was to light to provide shape and contrast inside an all-white room,” says Rumak. “With the tops of the perimeter walls angled toward the center of the room, and the massive computer and pink vegetation encompassing the center, there wasn’t much open ceiling to work with. We silked the open gaps between the center circle and perimeter walls and put Image 85s above that, along the edges, to make it feel as though the light was coming from the walls inward. We didn’t want it to get too toppy. We then shaped by adding more localized lights with honeycomb directional hard grids on Menace arms.”
To suggest the film’s two worlds colliding, when Max breaks into Elysium “we started blending our lenses and went a little more handheld,” says Opaloch. “When we got into battle sequences or hand-to-hand combat, we needed to loosen it up and get inside the action.”
During shooting, digital-imaging technician Brian Broz backed up all SSDs to on-set RAID arrays and then sent the original Redmags to Technicolor Vancouver, which handled dailies and LTO backup. Opaloch and Rhodes would do a basic color correction in Redcine X to wide, medium and close-up frame grabs and send those with the data.
Colorist Andrea Chlebak handled the final color timing at Digital Film Central in Vancouver. The facility built a linear OpenEXR architecture so she could grade using the same native files as the visual-effects facilities. (Image Engine Design served as lead.) The DFC team also built custom ACES “look” LUTs, not just transform LUTs for visual effects to preview grade decisions. Texture, frame rate, noise and contrast were matched for plates before they were handed off to the visual-effects team, and as a result, few completed mattes from visual effects were needed to complete the grade. “I was out of the country on another project during most of the timing, so I was only able to sit in on a handful of sessions with Neill,” says Opaloch. “ACES was quite new at the time, and it became part of our workflow after the timing had already begun. I know the post team and everyone at Image Engine was happy with the results.”