Lincoln is very much a hit with the award bodies this year. Having only just recently hit the cinemas, the film has already scooped up a Golden Globe and a BAFTA as well as being nominated for 12 Oscars. And although this is all very lovely, we’re more interested in the stunning results achieved by Framestore for this epic biopic. Providing the backdrop of 1865 America, a country ripped in two by civil war, Framestore worked alongside the filmmakers to make a historically accurate recreation that was both invisible and believable. And having already proved their expertise on Spielberg’s previous project War Horse, Framestore have obviously earned the trust and respect of Steven and his team.
On the set in Virginia, it was Framestore’s VFX Supervisor Ben Morris who was to head up the challenge of removing any sign of the 21st century. This meant eliminating any trace of telegraph poles, wires and modern buildings. There was the task of recreating Virginia’s Capitol Building from a photogrammetric survey, a building that is a smaller equivalent of Washington’s iconic landmark. This made a good starting point for the team at Framestore, as they used it as a basis to start building. Special attention had to be paid to historical detail as the building was only just complete at the time of Lincoln’s second inaugural address in 1865, a key moment in the film. That speech was one of the first ceremonies of its kind to be captured in a collodion plate photograph. Dropping the building into the background of shots filmed in the streets of Petersburg, Framestore were able to recreate the scene depicting exactly what could be seen in the famous historic photograph – using multiple crowd passes and matte paintings to add scope at the shot’s margins.
With such flawless workmanship, the work that Framestore have done for this film goes largely unnoticed, making it all the more impressive. In one scene Lincoln watches from the River Queen as St. Petersburg is attacked on his orders. It’s a dramatic, apocalyptic glimpse at what the president has ordered his troops to do. You wouldn’t know it, but this scene is made up of a variety of photo-real CG including the river, the city, as well as the fire and smoke that engulf it, all of which were created by the team at Framestore.
So if you want to see Visual Effects in its prime, we recommend you free some time to check out this film. This is a great way to see what can be done with the right skills and knowhow. And on that note, we send a massive congrats to the team at Framestore for setting the scene in this award winning film.