After getting away with his murders in outlying
areas, the Zodiac chooses downtown San Francisco for his next
victim. We listen to radio talk shows speculating wildly about
the killings while a series of Matte World shots show the city
from a floating perspective. Soon we discover that we have been
watching as the killer has hailed a cab and driven to the site
where he will murder the driver.
At the height of the killing spree and public turmoil, the Transamerica
Pyramid structure was beginning to take shape. The sequence
begins emerging from the clouds to reveal the construction pit
and early steel truss work. It's an entirely CGI shot, using
aerial photos of San Francisco buildings for photogrammetric
recreations of the neighborhood.
The killer hails
a cab in the busy Theater District. The digital camera used
to shoot Zodiac is very sensitive and performs well on night
shoots, but the sky and distant buildings are still too dark
to be picked up.
in the sky and extended the street with more period buildings.
An advertisement for "Hair" is a restrained period touch.
Once the killer is in the cab, Fincher
wanted the camera to follow from an overhead perspective perfectly
locked to the car. It's a highly artificial view, but when
coupled with a realistic rendering, it creates an unsettled
feeling in the audience.
shot could have taken an enourmous amount of detail to build
as a complete 3-d environment. As a more practical approach,
we collected overhead photographs from rooftops and mapped the
photos onto relatively simple geometry of the buildings and
streets. The cars required more complete models to allow for
shadows and reflections from lighting.
The San Francisco photos provide a great deal of complexity
with low rendering "cost".
For foot traffic,
we photographed actors walking across a bluescreen from the
roof of our building. Getting the perspective to match is
a sort of cheat. In theory, we would have had to use a moving
camera matching the scene camera. By cleverly placing the
elements, though, we were able to match the perspective using
a tripod-mounted camera. Computer-generated people fill in
a few gaps where the bluescreen people couldn't work, but
the real people have more natural and complex motion than
can be quickly generated in software.
The cars in the frame
seen here are all CGI, but in other parts of the shot we were
actually able to use store-bought miniature cars photographed
stop-motion to get the complex highlights without the long
renders and endless tweaking that cg cars require. We love
using "real" elements like this to keep our CGI shots honest.
San Francisco waterfront for a night version, Matte World modelled
the Bay Bridge for a flyover. >
Flying past layers
of fog, we see the bridge towers framing the waterfront skyline
and its lights reflected in the bay.