SOURCE: New Deal Studios

Film, Visual Effects, Commercials, Miniatures, Digital Effects, Production, New Deal Studios, Stage

March 03, 2010 08:05 ET

Shutter Island: Inside Martin Scorsese's Insane Asylum

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - March 3, 2010) -  The teaming of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio propelled Shutter Island to the top of the box office. Scorsese and VFX Supervisor Rob Legato called upon long-time colleague Matthew Gratzner, and his L.A. based, New Deal Studios, to create stunning, photorealistic imagery and seamless visual effects. 

Since creating the iconic Beverly Hills plane crash in The Aviator, Scorsese has entrusted Matthew Gratzner and New Deal Studios to deliver his vision. Gratzner states, "I deeply respect Scorsese's use of effects to support story. Realistic effects were particularly important on this project to maintain the emotional intensity of the film."

Shutter Island allowed New Deal Studios to showcase all aspects of their efficient production pipeline, from practical to digital, to deliver invisible visual effects.

New Deal created over 120 shots featuring miniatures, additional photography and digital effects. At times while Legato was directing 2nd unit, Gratzner worked with Scorsese on set as VFX Supervisor. Additionally, Gratzner's team generated previz, designs, and storyboards.

Miniatures included the Civil War fortress-turned-insane asylum and the interior stairwell. A spectacular lighthouse standing 14 feet tall was built and photographed for a variety of scenes including the final shot of the movie in which the lighthouse stands eerily alone at sunset. Gratzner filmed the model in natural daylight on a Malibu beach -- a perfect example of a classic in-camera effect.

Inserts and pick-up photography produced at New Deal included greenscreen shots of DiCaprio on the cliff face, Mark Ruffalo battling a simulated hurricane, and multiple shots of a menacing rat colony. 

New Deal Digital was instrumental in creating the spooky atmosphere of Ashecliffe Hospital's interior spaces from the Escher-like catwalks and halls of Ward C to the spiral staircase of the lighthouse where DiCaprio's character finally learns the dark truth about Shutter Island. Several exterior shots included elements of inmates, orderlies and guards composited around the hospital grounds.

Take a peek at the thrilling behind the scenes at

About New Deal Studios:
Founded in 1995 by Matthew Gratzner, Ian Hunter and Shannon Gans, this artist-owned and operated studio is one of the most dynamic companies in modern visual effects. They recently expanded to include a full-service commercial division. Recent projects include 2012, Alice in Wonderland and Christopher Nolan's Inception.

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