David Fincher – Invisible Details
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David Fincher – Invisible Details


♪ ♪ KRISTIAN: Many things come to mind
when you think of a David Fincher film. That signature steely color palette, his unconventionally-structured narratives, and of course some of the most
interesting characters ever put to film.>>Did you know if you
mix equal parts of gasoline with frozen orange juice
concentrate, you can make napalm? KRISTIAN: But what
they’re usually not seen as are visual effects pieces. Even though a film like The Social Network
has more visual effect shots than Godzilla. And that’s because Fincher’s
true trademark is deception. And it’s accomplished primarily through
the use of CGI and digital compositing. Fincher has always been on
the bleeding edge of technology, and he’s immersed himself in the
visual effects world his entire career. Starting with his work on
Return of the Jedi at ILM in the early 1980s. And because of those
three decades of experience, He knows exactly when
and how to use an effect effectively. Take this opening sequence
from Fight Club for example. We track down the building,
phasing into the garage revealing the vans loaded
with nitroglycerin bombs and set up an important setting
for the third act of the film. Now, without CG, that setup would
have to be done in four different shots. The garage, the van, the bomb, and the timer. And technically that’s still
all the same visual information, but none of those shots
establish distance or location in relation to Tyler and the narrator. Fincher likes to let you know
exactly where you are in a scene, and the use of CG allows him to
flesh out those environnments in a way that wouldn’t be possible with
traditional film making techniques. How would you establish 1960s
San Francisco, outside of a title card? Well, you could open with
the Golden Gate bridge. It’s iconic, it’s a visual landmark
that hasn’t changed in appearance since its construction, so it’s
appropriate for any period, and it’s also used in every single movie to let the audience know
they’re in San Francisco. But we’re nowhere near the
Golden Gate bridge with Zodiac. We’re downtown at the Chronicle. And rather than showing us
the exterior of the building, Fincher shows us this. The San Francisco waterfront
as it appeared in 1969. Complete with a historically-accurate skyline as well as a reconstruction
of the Embarcadero freeway that fell during the earthquake of 1989. And most people would never
guess that that entire cityscape was created in a computer. In fact, nearly every exterior shot
in Zodiac is digitally altered in some way to be period accurate. Fincher wanted the details
of the crime scenes to be as authentic as possible. And, ironically, the only way to
do that was through CG. If we look at the murder
of Washington and Cherry, you’ll see that this isn’t just a
simple chroma-key background. This shot is handheld, so the entire
environment was built from the ground up using camera projections to create
a 360° 3D model of the intersection that could then be tracked
onto the original plates to match perspective. But more than historical accuracy, Fincher uses these CG techniques
to bring depth to the storytelling. Like illustrating a city’s
transition into a new era through the construction of a landmark. Or building tension through
eerily-precise framing and virtual camera movement. It’s ALL in service of the story. Take the Henley Royal Regatta sequence
in The Social Network for example. It’s 57 shots, and every single
one of them is a visual effect. 3D tracking software was applied
to digitally replace each background as well as create detailed depth maps
that were then used to simulate the look of tilt-shift photography, which adds a sense
of isolation to the Winklevii and their attempts
to expose Zuckerberg. Everything around them
feels so insignificant compared to what
Facebook is becoming. And it’s the effect
that sells that emotion, but it does it without
drawing attention to itself. And I think that’s the essence of
all the visual effects in Fincher’s films. They’re almost never obvious. In fact, the real trick of this scene
isn’t the background. It’s the Winklevoss twins themselves. And, no, this isn’t just
a split-screen cloning effect. This was done by capturing a 3D mask
of Armie Hammer’s performace in CG and having it digitally super-
imposed over Josh Pence’s face, creating a hybrid of
actor and body double that could then portray two
distinct but identical characters within the same frame. Even the simplest shots have a surprising
number of complex visual effects. One of my favorite examples of this
is the Zodiac’s first murder sequence. It seems relatively straightforward. Night. Exterior. Two characters
inside the car being shot by the Zodiac, as blood splashes on the radio. Except: It’s not at night.
It’s shot in a studio. The exterior is a digital matte. The two
characters in the car as well as the Zodiac are bluescreen composites
shot on different plates. AND, all the blood is CG. Like I said, he’s a master of deception. And Fincher likes to use
digital blood as often as he can. Zodiac has some pretty
gruesome murder sequences, but not a single frame of
practical blood was shot. Same with Girl With a Dragon Tattoo. Every drop is CG, including the blood being washed
off of Mikael’s face in this scene, which is a whole ‘nother level of impressive. And the complexity of
visual effects in the backend allows for much more simplicity
during principal photography. Not worrying about redressing
the set multiple times gives Fincher the freedom to
shoot as many takes as he likes, and he likes to shoot a lot of takes.>>We shot 56 takes.
(laughs)>>I think we probably shot 30-35 takes,
and we probably shot 16 takes…>>We did that 17 times.>>This was many, many, many takes. KRISTIAN: Fincher also utilizes CG
in moments that would otherwise be difficult to recreate
over those several takes. If you ever wondered
how those gummy bears bounce so perfectly off of
Nick’s head while staying in frame, it’s because they’re CG. Same with Amy ‘s perfect putt, as well as this gap in Elizabeth’s hair. Since this scene was
filmed across multiple days, they composited a
separation in her bangs to maintain continuity between shots. And that same attention
to detail was applied to all of Mikael’s evidence boards. Notes and photos being digitally altered, or removed in accordance
with last-minute script changes, and scenes being cut for length. And, yeah, it’s easy
to think these are expensive, unnecessary
solutions to minor problems, but modern audiences aren’t as forgiving
when it comes to technical inconsistencies and continuity errors. And Fincher knows that. His films are ABOUT detail. His characters are investigators
and detectives and obsessives, and those traits are all
reflected in the film making. An incredible amount
of technical artistry shapes so many moments most people
with a blind animosity towards CG would never even notice. Take the motorcycle chase at the
end of Dragon Tattoo for example. Thousands of man hours of work went into digitally replacing
Elizabeth’s head during this sequence. Even though the simple,
financially-practical solution would just be to conceal
her face with a helmet and let the stunt driver perform
with no digital trickery. It’s even been established multiple times that
Elizabeth always rides with her headgear, but that doesn’t serve the narrative. She’s in a hurry.
She’s in pursuit of a murderer. And she’s reckless enough
to chase down a killer in spite of her own safety. The use of CG allowed Fincher to
shoot the scene efficiently and safely without compromising
the logic of the character. His visual effects are always
in service of the story. They’re not there to be recognized.
They’re not there to impress. They’re there to immerse. Fincher understands that what
technology you use is never important. It’s about how you use that
technology to communicate your vision and tell the best story you can. DAVID FINCHER: It takes titanium and aluminium
and steel and glass and lasers to do one thing : impart feeling. And that’s the magic of cinema. (music stops) KRISTIAN: I’d like to thank Squarespace
for sponsoring this week’s episode. Whether you’re looking to
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dot com slash K-A-P-T-A-I-N. ♪ ♪ (music slowly fades out)

100 thoughts on “David Fincher – Invisible Details

  1. Fincher still ruined dragon tattoo by changing lisbeths character arc at the end of the film. The books are so specific about her character and he ruined it entirely and I'll never forgive him for it lol

  2. Why are all of this "film analysis" people doing videos on youtube have the same "I'm very interesting" tone of voice ?

  3. Now I love David Fincher even more , his attention to detail is so unbelievably amazing , every shot in his films look like a painting to me , not because they look beautiful , although they really do , no the reason they look so amazing is that he does not just throw alot of shit in a room and film n just like a painting every every little spec of dust is there for a reason , like the broken tv in gone girl or the refreshed sushi and ice cream at the sean parker seen in the social network , these are things that are never mentioned or might even look un necessary in the grand skeem of the story but they make the world he created feel real in every way possible , on a technical standpoint he is my favourite director ever.

  4. When people say they despise CGI movies, they're usually thinking of those movies that feel artificial. Like every cinematic tool, there's a right way and a wrong way.

  5. This is one of THE greatest Youtube channels of all time. Thank you so much for the content you've made. I truly wish more will come. Life is not the same without kaptainkristian videos.

  6. I loved the Social Network. He did a wonderful job capturing the tone of that movie and making it match the story being told. It was beautiful.

  7. This is literally the best youtube channel. Actually, your videos are far above the standards of youtube.
    You deserve a team, a show on Netflix/Hulu…

  8. Couldn’t agree more. David Fincher is not only a filmmaker! He’s a visionary and he gets feelings and goosebumps in there too!

  9. Damn i had no idea David Fincher was so attractive.

    In any case, I’ve always looked at VFX from that same angle: I’m far more interested in how they allow me to better tell a story than I am in making them flashy.

  10. I just found your channel, and while I love David Fincher, your video content is fucking brilliant. Just truly brilliant. I hope you do more long form videos like this and your most recent one about Disney. The five minute videos are excellent, but it leave me wanting more.

  11. Just rewatching this, I only realised how many gosh darn invisible details there were in this whole video.
    I mean, I think what makes KaptainKristian's editing amazing is not only is it made with the intention of imparting feeling, but also shows to be impressive without distracting from the narrative.
    Especially in the last scene where he was literally flickering through the stages of compositing while never addressing it in his final speech to make a point, because the video leading up to that moment already did that.

    …who wants to make a channel analysing the analyst? Actually nevermind. People have already done that.

  12. Goddamn, your editing is masterful. This video was very well done and insightful, looking forward to your future work.

  13. Damn. And everyone's talking about how practical effects are so much better than CGI and how shooting in actual locations can't be replaced by green screen. But in reality you just gotta know how to use that stuff properly.

  14. This makes me question why the Academy Award for visual effects goes to "in-your-face-hyper-real" CGI… and not this sort of immersive illusion

  15. Question is, when you know CGI blood can look seamless how the fuck can they keep getting it so badly wrong? Seriously can't believe so many movies make a fucking hash of CGI blood, instantly turning a movie into a dumb cartoon. Some of these CGI guys are clearly so inept at their jobs they need to be fired and never work in Hollywood again – and I don't know how the directors allow it through the final cut. I mean Ridley Scott Alien Covenant, can't he SEE it's shit CGI fake blood? Everybody else can.

  16. I don't know Fincher, so I could be wrong, but…
    I don't think his exacting attention to detail is because he knows audiences now are less forgiving. I think it's because he's anal retentive and isn't willing to accept perfection, or as close to it as he can possibly get. I don't think it's for our benefit, I think it's for his.

  17. But, how can you assure that statement you made are true ? Exp like the blood, I don't think we all noticed it's CG blood unless one of the crew member speak it out isn't ? How can you so sure that there were CG ?

  18. every time I watch a Fincher movie I’m like, “how did they do this?” like I knew it wasn’t possible but my mind never went to CGI. he really is a master of deception. this is such a great video — I just subscribed!

  19. I would fucking LOVE it of you did a video on director Denis Villanueve. Delving into what makes his movies so good

  20. I'm rewatching this for the 8th time and I just realized that I haven't liked this video yet. Ha! How silly of me..

  21. Wow this is a good video. Such attention to detail. Even got perfect pronunciation of Mikael's name…. Truly fascinating.

  22. I have never understood why people make sweeping, generalized statements. Everything is to be seen and understood in context and it's time in history. What if let's say Psycho was made for the first time, I repeat not remake, in 2019 would it be made differently. What if The Shining had never been produced until someone picked up the book and made it in 2019, what would be different? VFX is a tool to tell a particular story effectively and entertainingly. Fincher has the unique ability among today's directors to use VFX to forward a story, enhance suspense and create drama in a balanced, nuanced way. Some directors do it the other way round: We have these VFX at our disposable let's make a story around it.

  23. Holy shit I didn’t know there was that much CGI in Zodiac! Usually green screen effects are a bit cheesy but I honestly thought that was all practical set!

  24. well done!
    Fincher is definitely one of the greatest directors today. I really hope one day he will make a film that will provide him wide mainstream-recognition as such.

  25. Damn I knew David Fincher was great but wow, this just lets me see that he’s actually on a whole other level 😱

  26. Do you know how time it took to do explosion scene at the end of fight club…
    About a year…whole simulation…Crazy awesome

  27. I would have never guessed that David used even one CGI in social network! Let alone having thousands of them!

  28. To bad he wasnt the director of the new ted bundy movie, he maybe done as a director
    http://zodiacciphersdecoded.blogspot.com/?m=1

  29. Amazing video. I didnt even have any idea that he was that good, but i guess that further proves how good he is!

  30. The articles that Tyler Durden thumbtacks to the wall regarding Project Mayhem in Fight Club all feature the same dummy text. Way to fail David Fincher.

  31. Fincher’s dislike of continuity errors has led to an amazing one on the Blu Ray of Fight Club. On the commentary originally created for the DVD Fincher points out his annoyance at the thermostat on the wall of his boss’s office changes because they did reshoots months later rand the office had been refurbed. However, that error has been corrected on the Blu Ray, so he now comments on an error that is no longer an error making it a brand new error.

  32. This is why I can't stand all the people who say CGI is worse than practical. They only see the bad stuff and assume its all like that, but the good stuff goes unnoticed.

  33. Some CGI shots are gratuitous, I think. Why does salander need a gap in her hair? Why is the blood CGI, why can't squibs be used? This is especially unwarranted when it's being washed off of Daniel Craig. Why can't they use a double for the chase sequence and use Rooney for close-ups?

  34. The shot from Zodiac with the Transamerica Pyramid being built and Marvin Gaye as the music track gets me every time. Pure genius.

  35. People hating on CGi seems to forget how many terrible TERRIBLE practical effects we use to have in "good old times", movie with bad CGI will still looks waaay better than movie with bad practical effects 🙂

  36. Like many, I am curious as to how Fincher will pull off the CG for his next two films; "Mank" (which will be a B&W biopic for Netflix with Gary Oldman in the lead) and "Flight 305" which will be a true-crime film about the DB Cooper Incident.

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