ADELAIDE, South Australia-In Lakeshore
Entertainment’s I, Frankenstein director
Stuart Beattie offers a darkly cerebral tale in which the monster of the Mary
Shelley novel (here named Adam and played by Aaron Eckhart) has survived to
modern day and become embroiled in a deadly confrontation between an assortment
of grisly gargoyles and demons.
Working under the supervision of James McQuaide, the film’s
visual effects supervisor and one of its executive producers, Rising Sun Pictures produced several dozen
visual effects shots for I, Frankenstein.
The studio’s team created intricate environmental effects and matte paintings
used to establish several of the film’s dark and brooding settings. Artists
also conjured up effects for what became known as the “stasis chamber,” a
devilish, quasi-scientific machine used to “reanimate” life.

The stasis chamber was originally conceived as needing
relatively modest visual effects enhancement. The practical set piece used in
the production was shaped like a large canister. Once a subject was placed
inside and the machine switched on, jolts of electricity were to course around
its sides as the dead subject was brought back to life. “Our brief was to
create an event that quickly kicks up in force and reaches a pinnacle,” recalls
RSP visual effects supervisor Adam Paschke. “It needed to feel extremely
RSP’s design team combed through a variety of sources for
inspiration, including video material of classic Kessler science experiments
and earlier movie incarnations of the Frankenstein story. “The practical set
was open—it contained no glass, and it was surrounded by a series of rings,”
notes Paschke. “James McQuaide wanted the audience to believe that something
quite eventful—and awful—was happening in those rings, some sort of force that
moves from one ring to the next and meets in the middle.”
Ultimately, the team settled on a concept involving three
main elements: electrical arcs that play along the sides of the chamber,
“plasma skinning” that develops inside the chamber as the process of
reanimation occurs, and vapor which forms as the machine becomes over-cranked
and perhaps out of control. “We built a network of electricity between each
ring and shrouded the subject with plasma like a cocoon,” explains Paschke.
“The effect progresses over time. The force of the network is drawn from one
ring to another and meets in the middle, causing repulsion. This blow out
creates the stasis effect.”
The stasis chamber is used twice in the film. Early on,
scientists who’ve built the machine use it in an attempt to bring a rat back
from the dead. Near the climax of the film, the machine is used to reanimate a
recently departed human subject. At McQuaide’s suggestion, the RSP team helped
to make it appear as though the machine had undergone an evolution between the
time of its first and second appearance.
“James wanted it to be clear that, during the early test
with the rat, the scientists were operating in a somewhat volatile and
uncertain zone,” Paschke says. “They knew the science from Victor
Frankenstein’s notes, but didn’t know how far they could push it. When they
pitch the idea to Bill Nighy’s character, they aren’t sure it’s going to be
successful. They were walking a fine line between reanimating the subject and
frying it. So, there needed to be an element to the forces that was a little
bit out of control. It had to read as if it was a bit dangerous. You wouldn’t
stick your arm in the stasis chamber.
“Further on in the show, when we have a human subject, the
system is much more refined. It’s obvious that they have learned to calibrate
it and calculate the amount of force.”
RSP’s collaboration with McQuaide was lively and intensive.
Paschke notes that as an executive producer of the film, McQuaide had been
involved in the production of the film from its earliest phase and had a deep
connection to the story. “He knew the show inside out, as most supervisors whom
we work with do, but he had so much insider information,” Paschke recalls. “He
was very conscious of where he should invest his energy and where we should
invest ours. That was very helpful.”
“The briefing sessions in cineSync went on for hours because
he would give us such detail,” Paschke adds. “James really believed in this
story. He could answer any question. And that was fantastic. He was precise and
The fruits of that collaboration are evident in the results.
The stasis chamber is a much more complex, nuanced and engrossing effect than
originally planned. “When it goes crazy near the end of the show, we went to
town, completely bursting the seams,” Paschke says. “Controlled volatility is
quite an art. We were working with systems that responded like electricity and
would arc along different parts of the environment. We got a system down pat
that allowed us to control that quite effectively. So we were definitely
satisfied with the result. It was good fun!”
Rising Sun Pictures:
Rising Sun Pictures is a passionate team of artists,
producers and technicians, known for providing complex visual effects and CG
character work to feature film and television clients over the past 18 years.
With the infrastructure to deliver a full spectrum of services from Design
through to Digital Intermediate, RSP boasts a filmography of 100 films, with
such titles as Prometheus, The Hunger Games, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,
the Harry Potter series, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Gravity,
The Great Gatsby, The Seventh Son and The Wolverine. More Info at
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