Phosphene Removes Obstacles with Mocha Pro

Tags: Mocha, Mocha Pro

Phosphene is an Emmy-nominated and Visual Effects Society winning independent design and visual effects house based in New York City. The mid-sized house packs a big punch with high-end 2D and 3D generalists along with three full-time VFX Supervisors.

The team is currently working on the film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies based on the New York Times best-selling mash-up novel, recently signed on as the vendor/on-set supervisor for director Baz Luhrmann’s Netflix series The Get Down about the rise of hip hop in the 1970s Bronx, and has started working on season 2 of The Knick (Cinemax). Other notable projects include: Bill Condon’s Mr. HolmesMarco Polo (Netflix), David Simon’s upcoming HBO miniseries Show Me A Hero, and Boardwalk Empire (HBO).

Phosphene has been using Mocha together with Nuke since 2012 and uses it on almost all of their projects. “Mocha is a great tracking tool, especially for organic shapes and situations where there are no tracking markers or when there are changes in perspective,” says Greg Radcliffe, Digital Artist. “We also tend to do a lot of facial augmentation. Mocha is extremely useful in these situations as we are able to capture the subtle movements of a patch of skin without which our wounds, cuts, and gory flesh would not look so realistic.”

Besides planar tracking and adding facial elements, Phosphene relies heavily on Mocha for its object removals on non-flat or animated surfaces, which is especially handy for unplanned VFX shots. “Often I am tasked with doing the impossible paint-out where there are wires over an actor’s face or a shot that was rigged to be filmed from the front was filmed from behind or we need to remove an actor from the foreground of a shot but preserve the actors and objects behind them,” notes Scott Winston, Lead Digital Artist. “In these situations, tracking in flat paint patches won’t work and painting frame by frame is impractical, so we will track multiple objects in Mocha and export shape data to use in the Spline Warp. This allows us to match the movement of the objects more closely and create a more realistic replacement. It would be impossible to do this without having Mocha to generate the splines.”

Phosphene’s impressive VFX work on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire was nominated for an Emmy award and won a prestigious Visual Effects Society award for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program.

The tight knit team at Phosphene juggles multiple projects with turnarounds from anywhere between three to six months on features and as little as a week per episodic. Working efficiently is key. “Another great advantage is that Mocha Pro is quick to learn, making it easy for freelance artists who haven’t previously used Mocha to adapt to Phosphene’s workflow,” ends Radcliffe.


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