How Short Film ‘Kilian’s Game’ Showcases New Creators and Film Techniques at Sony
A short film created as part of a project to showcase Sony technology’s capabilities is already changing how the company makes content.
Noir-inspired “Killian’s Game” was the first project to come out of the Sony Content Technology Strategy Committee, a group of around 100 people “and growing,’ according to Daniel De La Rosa, VP of Post Production at Sony Picture Entertainment.
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Behind-the-scenes up-and-coming Hollywood creators worked on the projects and the nine-minutes packs in new filmmaking techniques developed by combining creators’ ideas with Sony Group’s multifaceted technologies.
“There have always been requests from the R&D teams to visit sets because it helps them form their development process,” De La Rosa explained. “The answer is typically no.” However, the combination of virtual production, streaming feeds from the set, and the tech allowed them to do that.
It also illustrated how much content creation now revolves around having critical assets available. “If someone asked, ‘We’re going to create the Spider-Man asset, so what do we need to be able to use it in an interactive or video game experience?’ this process taught us what to look for to make everything more compatible downstream.”
Co-writers and co-directors Collin Davis and Matt Litwiller had a script, but the available tech informed several creative changes.
“It became an exercise in how some of the tools could be best used to enhance what we had,” Davis explained, saying the Airpeak S1 drone allowed them to “mimic” the opening sequence of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and get “mysterious shots to build tension.”
“We always tried to give feedback and make suggestions but not eat into the creative or change their mind because of the tech,” pledged Yoshikazu Takashima, Sony’s SVP of Advanced Technology. “If the DP wanted to use a different brand of camera, we’d let them do that, and Sony could learn about the compatibility and why they chose the other one.”
De La Rosa added, “We also worked tirelessly with the DP Doug Potts to find the same set of lenses in Japan that he had used in the States. They used our VENICE 2 cameras in both locations with Kowa anamorphic lenses, so we rented those to make it look as seamless as possible.”
“Killian’s Game” was shot partly on location in and around Los Angeles but also in Tokyo utilizing Crystal LED B-Series screens on the Sony PCL Inc. Virtual Production Stage using 360 renders of US locations.
“The final scene where two guys are lighting the house on fire was shot in Tokyo on a C-LED wall, and we intercut inserts that we shot in LA,” co-director Litwiller recalled. “It took a lot of planning, but we were amazed at how well it cut together.” The fire was created by the award-winning visual effects studio, FuseFX.
“That is not something we would have written for a short film on a relatively modest budget because you just can’t light stuff on fire,” Davis added. “It’s way too expensive.”
To recreate the location that was ultimately destroyed on screen, Davis, Litwiller, and their DP spent a day and a half filming what they needed and another four hours LIDAR scanning the same space. “They set up this round device, it scanned the room, next you’d take texture pictures, and then they can use all that to create a full 3D environment that can then be moved through however you like or projected onto a screen,” Davis enthused describing the results as “stunning.”
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