WHAT IS STUNTVIS?
Imagine a script calls for a major superhero fistfight between a hero and villain to take place on a freeway overpass. Quite often the stunts team will not have access to the final shooting location, so instead they might imagine the sequence in a rehearsal space and then edit the footage together. That edit, especially for a superhero showdown, will typically include some key placeholder visual effects elements, with the final product a visualization of how the stunt coordinator or action choreographer sees the fight as playing out. The sets and costumes are not important, just the main beats.
“Stuntvis has multiple purposes,” outlines Chris Clements, a stuntvis artist with credits on Neflix’s Daredevil and The Punisher television series and Pacific Rim Uprising. “It’s used to sell the director and producers on the vision, to work out certain beats before a shoot to make sure they play correctly to camera and, most importantly, to act as a souped-up storyboard that can be referenced by multiple departments.”
“It also gives the post visual effects team a great reference for what the stunt department is thinking the final product should look like,” adds Clements. “It’s not uncommon for the final sequence to be nearly identical to the stuntvis, from the camera angles down to little dust impacts that need to be digitally added.”
Clements recently worked with action consultant Philip J. Silvera on two large action sequences in Pacific Rim Uprising, helping to imagine how the frenetic fighting styles of the robot Jaegers would look. “Those sequences required a little bit of everything,” says Clements. “We added in miniature crowds, mech blades composited onto the stunt doubles, missiles, helicopters and a ton of destruction!”
Silvera is a strong proponent of stuntvis. He also used it to present his fight ideas on Deadpool and its sequel Deadpool 2, and for the Daredevil series. On this Netflix show, Clements was provided with edits of the planned action sequences to add effects elements. “Typically, this would involve gunshots, blood hits and dust hits to help sell the action,” he explains. “The stunt coordinators I work with are very story-driven, so it becomes important to highlight certain weapons or injuries or portions of a location in the stuntvis. The fun really starts for me when I need to figure out how to achieve a difficult effect in a believable, time-efficient manner. It becomes a tug of war between time and quality.”