"We went to the Haleakala volcano in Maui for a week and, with three cameras strapped together, shot these panoramas of clouds and sunrises and sunsets," Kosinski continues. "And then we reprojected that footage on the projectors around the set [in real-time] so that there is no blue screen in the background. Not only are you creating the background in the image but you're also lighting the set with that projection so that it creates a very natural situation that you could never achieve with blue screen. It looks great [and the actors enjoyed being in a real environment].
"This movie, which would normally be 1,600 visual effects shots, had half the amount. And then the job of [VFX] was to place those elements in these landscapes we shot in Iceland and make it feel as grounded as possible. And I'm happy to say that we did most of this work in Los Angeles with Digital Domain and Pixomondo. With all the talk about outsourcing, this was fantastic."
VFX supervisor Eric Barba and Digital Domain (who worked on "Tron: Legacy") created CG models of the drones, the Tet, and the hydro rigs and were responsible for the stadium sequence, the Raven Rock attack, and the climax. Pixomondo (which won the Oscar for "Hugo") stitched the Sky Tower footage together and created the CG Sky Tower and bubble ship that Cruise drives, as well as exterior cloud and storm environments under the supervision of Bjorn Mayer.
"Oblivion" was shot digitally at 4K using the new Sony F65, which provided great dynamic range, held the highlights, and shows off the textures really well in the Sky Tower sequence. Kosinski was also thrilled about the added detail that goes with the large-format IMAX presentation (reformatted at 1.89:1).
"Despite the technical challenges of 'Tron,' this felt like a real film," adds Kosinski, who created an illustrated novel as a pitch tool with images of the Sky Tower, the bubble ship, and the Empire State Building, which then got into the hands of Cruise, who actually approached him to star in the movie. "I knew that to make an original film like this, I needed a big movie star at the center of it. I also knew that I needed an incredible actor to carry off the range of emotions. He's in a relationship and dreaming of someone else, and she suddenly drops in his lap and it changes his world."
What next? "Tron 3," whose first draft was recently turned in by Jesse Wigutow? We already know that Kosinski's exec-producing the upcoming "Ballistic City" series for AMC. "I'm not sure yet what my next movie will be. Science fiction is great but I might want to do something else. I'm reading all kinds of scripts and trying to find something I like."
Passion projects are a hard act to follow.