Director Ben Shirinian went into pre-production with a clear cinematic vision for his enchanting short film Josef & Aimée. Ben, together with 1st Assistant Director Chris Byrne, prepared an ambitious six day shooting schedule which took place during the last week of November 2010. The almost entirely green screen shoot was filmed on the RedMX camera at Commercial Studios in Toronto. Numerous camera setups called for crane, dolly, steadicam, turntable, and camera car rigs. There was also a custom built motion control rig which was used for a time lapse sequence. Despite the busy schedule, this proved to be one of the most enjoyable experiences I've ever had on set. The atmosphere was very collaborative and the entire crew delivered some amazing work. I was blown away by the beautiful images captured at 4K by the RedMX and Cooke Panchro lenses.
To realize the elaborate choreography, the film went through extensive previs at The Junction VFX. Every shot was blocked out for layout and timing and each camera move was carefully planned out. This became the basis for the shoot and served as an invaluable guide on set. It also informed where practical set pieces could be built and where set extensions would be required. Practical foreground set pieces were built whenever an actor had to interact with their environment. The art department did an awesome job, often working through the night to prepare the set for the next day. The hectic schedule was completed under the guidance of Chris Byrne, who ran the shoot masterfully. Chris is very visual effects savvy and was always accommodating on set.
As you might imagine, we had tracking markers everywhere. Even so, I don't envy the task of match moving nearly every shot in the film. Accurate camera tracks will be essential when it comes time to integrate the film's many matte paintings, digital environments, set extensions, and CG characters.
Although this was my first time working beside Cinematographer Jeremy Benning, Josef & Aimée was actually my second Benning project. The first was as online editor for the stop motion short The Stone of Folly, which went on to win the Prix du Jury at The 2002 Cannes Film Festival. I had a great time working with Jeremy and his crew. I always enjoy any chance I get to hang out with the camera department, and this was no exception.
The vast majority of the visual effects will be handled by Junction VFX, including digital environments, matte paintings and set extensions. Meanwhile I'll be looking after the film's digital character Parpar. Parpar appears throughout the film in various forms, and is currently in development at Spin VFX. There's a hint to who Parpar is in his name. The offline is being assembled at School Editing and I am eagerly awaiting the first cut.
With it's engaging story, charming characters and stunning performances by Kai Stothers (Josef) and Nolwenn Boutle (Aimée), Ben has captured a film with enormous potential. I have high hopes for Josef & Aimée and I'm keen to get shots into production.