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Prix 1987 - 2007

Ars Electronica Linz & ORF Oberösterreich

Sin City
Stuart Maschwitz, The Orphanage

The Orphanage created 645 shots for Sin City, specifically a brief introduction at the beginning as well as the final third section of the film in the sequence entitled “That Yellow Bastard”. What makes the effects in Sin City particularly noteworthy is the scope of work done digitally—from cinematography to lighting to production design and of course, weather systems.

In order to bring keep the CG from bring too “perfect” and losing the aesthetic grit, The Orphanage intentionally limited itself to using common on-set film techniques that movie-goers would intuitively recognize. For instance, in a forest scene at night, the scene was lit in the style of a live-action nightshoot; the light sources were set at ranges that wouldn’t be higher than if they were actually on light stands. To create the bold light highlights on cars, The Orphanage used reflecting cards in their CG program to simulate the lighting style of a car commercial. The company even consciouslybuilt artifacts into the CG to emulate the happy accidents of live-action photography, such as the artifacts that occur when light spills onto the lens. Ultimately, the biggest challenge came from the winter landscape. The CG artists had to tackle complex issues for snow creation ranging from the correct reflection of light on snow from various angles to what happens when falling snow hits the ground. For many of the digital environments, practical models were used, with baking soda standing in for snow. Practical solutions were also used to simulate the Yellow Bastard’s splattering blood—in one scene the blood is actually eggnog, photographed in The Orphanage’s parking lot.

In the end, Variety summed it up best, Sin City achieved “an aggressively faithful rendering of a comic book aesthetic as has been put on the big screen with live actors…a Mickey Spillane fever dream…[and] a one way ticket to hard-boiled heaven.”