When I watch the Netflix series Mindhunter, I’m blown away by how accurate the production design seems to portray the time period. I think to myself, “How do they find these places?”
The short answer… they don’t. They find locations that have the right skeleton, and then collaborate with a skilled VFX team to enhance scenes with CGI like matte paintings, 3D tracking, and composites.
Take a look at the Mindhunter VFX in the video below:
VFX in the Mindhunter Kansas Scene
In this Kansas home scene from Mindhunter, the VFX artists changed the surroundings by adding leaves to the trees and color to the grass.
This was most likely for the sake of historical accuracy since this murder probably took place during the spring, and it keeps continuity for the overall story of the federal agents' timeline as well.
They were also able to remove dolly tracks from the frame so that the filmmakers could get a really smooth and rather long camera movement.
These effects were achieved through the use of matte paintings, 3D tracking, and removal of on-screen elements like the dolly tracks.
Mindhunter Matte Painting
VFX in the Mindhunter Diner Scene
In this diner scene from Mindhunter, you can see how the VFX artists add a car from the appropriate period by using a split-screen, where they film the same area twice and splice the two clips together to make it seem as though it was all films as a single instance.
This saves some money by allowing the filmmakers to use fewer cars as well as perfectly stage their scene. The artists also completely transform the background with a bridge, a skyline, some extra trees, and extra street lamps as well.
It also allows the filmmakers to build the set as accurately as possible without the expensive set pieces. The locations don't have to be "perfect" right out the gate which gives more flexibility when location scouting.
These effects were achieved through the use of matte paintings, the addition of 3D elements, and some good old fashioned brain power.
VFX in the Mindhunter Dump SceneIn this dump scene from Mindhunter, the VFX artists decided to add extra trash around the dumb as well as adding some haze and some snow. They also added material to the building in the deep background.
They use matte paintings to add the extra debris and building material, and 3D tracking to make sure the correct perspective is maintained.
The VFX artists added the smoke and snow to add some atmosphere and presumably to the scene and keep things historically accurate.
You can see how the VFX artists had to keep things consistent with the reverse view, and how they used material to make and otherwise bland and empty building seem a bit more visually interesting.
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