How Oppenheimer’s VFX Supervisor Was Challenged By Christopher Nolan

Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan opens up about how he challenged his VFX supervisor with visually representing the titular scientists’ inner thoughts. The biographical film focuses on J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) and his work on developing nuclear weapons in the Manhattan Project. The film, which has a budget of $100 million, will be almost 3 hours long.
Speaking with Empire, Nolan revealed how he challenged VFX supervisor Andrew Jackson during the production of Oppenheimer. The director said he wanted Jackson to create visual representations of Oppenheimer’s inner thoughts, but to do so without any CGI. Check out what Nolan had to say about his idea below:
The first person I showed the script to when it was finished after [his producer and wife] Emma [Thomas] read it was Andrew Jackson, the visual effects supervisor. I said to him, ‘We have to find a way into this guy’s head. We’ve gotta see the world the way he sees it, we’ve gotta see the atoms moving, we’ve gotta see the way he’s imagining waves of energy, the quantum world. And then we have to see how that translates into the Trinity test. And we have to feel the danger, feel the threat of all this somehow.’ My challenge to him was, ‘Let’s do all these things, but without any computer graphics.’
How Oppenheimer Could Be Christopher Nolan’s Biggest Undertaking

Seeing Oppenheimer’s inner mindset without using any computer-generated effects underscores just how massive an undertaking the film is. Oppenheimer’s massive runtime indicates the movie will be diving deep into his life, his work, and the consequences of the Manhattan Project. By displaying his inner thoughts on an atomic level, but without CGI, Nolan has ensured Oppenheimer will be unlike anything he’s ever directed before.
The visual effects of Oppenheimer aren’t the only eye-catching part of Nolan’s upcoming biopic. Oppenheimer is Nolan’s first R-rated film in 20 years, with his 2002 psychological thriller Insomnia being his last movie to carry an R-rating. Not only will Oppenheimer stand out visually in Nolan’s film catalog, but it will likely feel different from the many PG-13 films he’s made in the past two decades.
It’s unclear how the visual spectacle of Oppenheimer’s thoughts will play out in the film, as well as what Jackson did to make them come to life without computer imagery. However, the many sequences of fire and explosions in Oppenheimer promotional material may be hinting at how the scientists’ mind will come to life in the movie. The visual representation of Oppenheimer’s thoughts working on the Manhattan Project will be revealed when the movie arrives in theaters on July 21.
Source: Empire

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