Framestore NY's latest project “We Steal Secrets,” the Wikileaks-inspired saga, which just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The film is a collaboration between producer Marc Shmuger and Alex Gibney, a prolific Oscar-winning documentarian. Framestore, the global, Oscar-winning VFX agency, was tapped to bring the story of Wikileaks to the big screen using design and visual effects.
Framestore’s NY design department was initially approached by Jigsaw Productions director, Alex Gibney, to design two integral aspects of the story: the visual representation of the internet and all the articles, tweets and products it housed and the chat logs between Private Bradley Manning and hacker Adrian Lamo. As a positive result of the original concept discussions, Gibney also enlisted the Framestore NY team to create the main title sequence.
Maryanne Butler, Head of Framestore’s New York Design Department, and Marc Smith, Senior Design Director NY, lead the project from the beginning, supervising the After Effects, Cinema 4D and Flame teams in visualizing bodies of data streams and recreating the numerous article headlines that tracked the story of Wikileaks and it’s founder, Julian Assange, from their first major “leak” to the rape allegations that soon resurfaced.
Of the main title sequence, Marc Smith explains: "The creative focused on the need for this network-inspired world to contain a sinister edge in keeping with the films content. To this end, the color palette was kept dark and minimal throughout, and the camera work would at times suddenly lurch, twist and dive through our world of nodes and connections. What would start as a seemingly random set of pixels, would organically shift, twitch and grow to reveal an interconnected whole".
Maryanne Butler had this to say about the chats: “In designing the chat logs for the film we did not want for them to simply look like text off of a screen. Instead, they needed to feel textural and alive, sinister and, at times, lonely. So much of what the logs expressed was a personal outpouring from Private Manning so we had to stay sensitive to the subject in visualizing these".
Additional effects created for the project ranged from a series of crash-zoom composites, “tweet” dramatizations, video effects and data exfiltration. In all, the Framestore team created over 35 minutes of rendered effects for the film. Framestore has an immensely talented team and multi-faceted global design offering and "We Steal Secrets - The Story of Wikileaks" is a brilliant example of a project completed out of the New York office.