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Trick or Treat: Trick Digital Tackles Visual Effects for "Jeepers Creepers III" with Fusion Studio

URSA Mini 4.6Ks and DaVinci Resolve Studio also used to complete the film

The chills continue in "Jeepers Creepers III," the latest film in the "Jeepers Creepers" franchise. The Creeper was first introduced to audiences in 2001 when it terrorized siblings Trish (Gina Phillips) and Darry Jenner (Justin Long). It then returned to the big screen in 2003 when it attacked a school bus full of high school basketball players and cheerleaders. 

Now in the third installment, "Jeepers Creepers III" shows what happened in the days between the first two movies when the Creeper was still hunting for victims. With Jonathan Breck, Brandon Smith and Gina Phillips returning as the Creeper, Sergeant Davis Tubbs and Trish Jenner, "Jeepers Creepers III" also stars Stan Shaw ("Rocky," "Snake Eyes," "Fried Green Tomatoes"), Meg Foster ("They Live," "Masters of the Universe") and Gabrielle Haugh ("Days of Our Lives").

Adam Clark of Trick Digital was the film's visual effects (VFX) supervisor who was tasked with bringing the Creeper to life in the new film. Clark explains, "Going into the film, there was 14 years of fan anticipation we had to deliver on. We knew we had to deliver the Creeper that the fans were waiting for, with some new twists."

Using Some Blackmagic 

The "Jeepers Creepers III" team used Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K digital film cameras for all drone, pickup and gimbal shots, as well as background plates and as an additional camera in multi-camera sequences. In post, the film's color grading was then done using Blackmagic Design's DaVinci Resolve Studio, and Clark used Fusion Studio, Blackmagic Design's VFX, compositing and motion graphics software, for the film's VFX.

"From the main title sequence to the Creeper's weapons and wings, we used Fusion Studio for the film's VFX," says Clark. "We rely heavily on Fusion Studio's 3D engine. It's a huge time saver - any time we can speed up the workflow by utilizing tools in composite, we do so. Being able to see exactly how 3D elements will integrate with the final composite and adjust accordingly without the burden of 3D re-renders is huge."

Time was a crucial factor for Clark. "The film was very ambitious and had a short shooting schedule, so we knew from the beginning that we'd have a heavy VFX workload. As only a team of three, we completed hundreds of shots over the course of just a couple months.

"Along with using Fusion Studio's 3D tools and particle system in various ways to speed up our work, we also relied on its rendering engine, which provides rendering across unlimited CPUs, to ensure we could deliver at the speed and budget at which the film's VFX design process needed to happen," he continues. "Fusion Studio's rotoscoping and keying toolset are the backbone of our compositing pipeline. Whenever we can, we prefer to combine the roto and matte tools with Fusion Studio's 3D engine, using 3D tracking/point cloud data to help automate the roto process, especially in complex composites where that data has already been generated."

Getting Creepier

"With this being the third film in the franchise, we wanted to make sure we provided consistency for the fans but also turned things up a notch. This presented a few new challenges," says Clark. "For example, in 'Jeepers Creepers III,' there were a large number of broad daylight shots of the Creeper's wings, which the originals did not have. We also wanted to make the wings more aggressive. We changed their silhouette by adding more curves and tension in the membrane areas between the bones, making the bony extrusions more pointed and dramatic and less kite-like when fully extended." 

"Along with the wings, the Creeper also has some very creative and horrific weapons. In a few sequences, it made the most sense to import weapon geometry, such as the Creeper's throwing star, spear and rolling car bombs, into Fusion Studio to do the animation and light there. Designing in the compositing process gave us speed and flexibility, which was particularly helpful for shots that we knew would likely have numerous iterations based on the director's creativity," Clark continues.

Scary Crows

Along with the film's core VFX, Clark and the Trick Digital team also handled the film's main title sequence. Clark explains, "During the main title sequence, hundreds of crows needed to fly across the screen and eerily overtake the frame. There were a number of different possible approaches we could have taken, but we decided that using Fusion Studio's 3D particle system was the fastest, most flexible and effective. We rendered several CG crow flight cycles to use as animated sprite sequences in Fusion Studio, where we could easily adjust the timing, flight paths and number of crows." 

The team also used VFX to create more of an eerie landscape and backdrop for the film. "We used Fusion Studio's 3D toolset for numerous set extensions. For example, in the story, many scenes take place in or around a spooky hill that didn't exist in reality as needed. There were many green screen shot composites where the digital hill and surrounding environment were placed off 3D tracking data in Fusion Studio," concluded Clark.

About Adam Clark and Trick Digital
Adam Clark has been VFX Supervisor on 40 films and television productions, and has worked with legends of horror as well as Academy Award-winning talent. He also is a writer, composer and Grammy-winning audio engineer. He is again teaming up with "Jeepers Creepers III" executive producer Ari Golan on their latest project "Stolen," which will feature an end-to-end Blackmagic Design workflow.

For almost two decades, award winning VFX shop Trick Digital has designed thousands of visual effects, many in the horror and psychological thriller, and sci-fi genres, seen on screens by millions of viewers. Learn more at:

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