Parasite (Korean: 기생충; RR: Gisaengchung) is a 2019 South Korean black comedy thriller film directed by Bong Joon-ho, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Han Jin-won.
The Academy Award-winning film Parasite. how Dexter Studio uses RenderMan to deliver spectacular VFX
Director Bong is very experienced in film technology and has a deep insight into VFX. “During pre-production, we provided the 3D model of the main house in a real-time game engine which he took and used himself, taking snapshots and directing camera angles. During the film’s post-production, he would give us direction by drawing onto images to give context to his feedback, this made his direction very clear,” said Seock Hee.
Dexter’s pipeline is based on Pixar’s Universal Scene Description (USD). “We started the migration to a USD based pipeline two years ago from an Alembic based pipeline to simplify complex data management, this allowed us to streamline assets. We added many custom parameters to our new USD pipeline so that this migration would be as smooth as possible,” added Seock Hee.
“We’ve also developed several pieces of internal software to deal with production complexities, notably our in-house tool Tane which is used for environment setups and Zenn, which is our pipeline solution for hair, fur, and feathers. These tools are essential for us to reach production levels of complexity in a relatively short period of time,” said Seock Hee.
Dexter was responsible for approximately 500 VFX shots in Parasite. The most challenging aspect of the visual effects in Parasite was the two-story house and its surrounding environment, including the immaculate lawn. Director Bong created the house down to its most intricate detail, including a fully functional interior and exterior, the only issue was that it was a single-story house instead of a two-story house. To solve this discrepancy, Dexter took the blueprints of the house and accurately modeled the exterior of the second floor. “RenderMan’s Pixar Surface Material was the ideal shader for all the materials surrounding the exterior surfaces of the house as it allowed us to match the plate photography really well,” said Seock Hee.
The house and the surrounding environment were filmed separately in different locations. The surrounding street environment was made in 3D, and the area where a lot of interaction happened had to be built as a live action set. “The challenging part was that the angle of the slope in the live action set was different from what the director wanted in the movie, so we achieved the director’s vision using a Lidar data survey from the set scanning,” said Seock Hee.