"For me, the most difficult sequence we did was shot in Utah," he reports. "It's called the 'White Ape' sequence, which was set in this vast Roman amphitheater, which didn't even exist—it was all greenscreen. Carter fights this huge animal, and shooting a sequence like that in the bright desert sun, with multiple cameras and complex crane moves and a character that isn't even there, is so tricky. In fact, it just sounds so preposterous on paper. But with Andrew and Peter Chiang there on set, they helped keep all the supertechnical side of it in perspective. They enabled me to do what I do best and to give them exactly the shots and coverage they needed to make it all work."
Mindel goes on to stress that Stanton's "experience and knowledge of animation is so huge that I felt very comfortable in the end with all the tricky sequences like that—and the movie is full of them."
Although the DP is usually closely involved with the DI, in this case, the DI was overseen by Pixar at EFILM. "What's most important about these kinds of huge films is that although they're primarily digitally manipulated effects films, they start on analog image-gathering platforms," explains Mindel. "And that's what really informs the final look, I feel."
In contrast, he cites "purely digital films that tend to look and feel a bit sterile. What's lacking in them is any real soul or organic feeling, and for me, they all look the same in the end. So what's so interesting about shooting a hybrid digital-analog film like John Carter is that some of the artifacts that are left later can't be taken away, as they're part of the skeleton of the film. And I love that about them—the idea that the two technologies can work alongside each other and complement each other."