One of Us creates enchanting VFX for Pinocchio

Dec 16, 2020

Soho VFX studio One of Us created stunning visual effects for director Matteo Garrone’s Pinocchio, released in cinemas across the US from Christmas Day.

Cinematographer Nicolaj Brüel’s lensing of Garrone’s Pinocchio also won the Bronze Frog in the main competition of the 28th EnergaCamerimage Festival of the art of cinematography.

The film, which features some of the most beautiful and ambitious work in their 15 year history, is based on Carlo Collodi’s original story from the 19th century and draws on Carlo Chiostri’s illustrations. With a theatricality which might seem hard to reconcile with digital visual effects, their work ran to over 200 shots and nearly half an hour of screen time and was nominated for a David di Donatello VFX award.

Garrone’s is a world in which animals portrayed with little more than make-up (a fox, a cat) live alongside fully digital creatures (a donkey, dogfish, woodpeckers) and prosthetic-digital hybrids (tuna, snail, cricket).

One of Us company became involved in the project early in the pre-production process and began by testing approaches to the portrayal of Pinocchio himself, working alongside make-up and prosthetics magician Mark Coulier, to be sure the digital work was in sympathy with, and added to, the richness of the world that Garrone was building.

Through pre-production, and a three month shoot in Tuscany, Puglia and Rome, One of Us VFX supervisor, Theo Demiris, built a relationship of trust with Garrone, developing an understanding of his aesthetic intentions and planning the best route through a short post period.

Theo Demiris commented on the complexities of the VFX, “the work presented both technical and artistic challenges, including a 40 second shot of a drowning donkey enveloped in a shimmering school of fish, and the breaching of the whale which swallows Pinocchio, with all the
chaotic water interaction that entails. We also need to mention the iconic sequence in which the young puppet’s nose grows in response
to his lies and is resolved by the arrival of a small flock of woodpeckers. These and many other complex shots needed to fit within the singular world that Garrone had created, and much of this was achieved by an ongoing dialogue between One Of Us, the Director, and his
Concept artist and character designer Pietro Scola.”

Garrone was generous in his praise for One of Us: “Thank you for the dedication and love that you’ve shown for the project and for the quality of your work.”

“We are tremendously proud of what Theo and his team have created,” says One of Us company director, Rachael Penfold, “and we are delighted to be part of this beautiful, and beguiling fairy tale.”

Pinocchio will be showing at cinemas across the US from December 25th, 2020.

Watch the VFX breakdown in the video below…

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