Home­ward Bound

Animation Magazine - - Opportunities - By Martin Gre­bing

The world is wak­ing up to the idea that work­ing from home saves time and money while im­prov­ing qual­ity of life.

Di­rec­tor Sam Mendes fully em­braces CG to bring zip to

By Bill De­sowitz.

With the re­turn of James Bond’s arch neme­sis Blofeld and his ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion in SPEC­TRE, Daniel Craig’s fourth mis­sion as Agent 007 takes the fran­chise back to a more play­ful tone — with a lot more VFX.

Things start off with a bang in a thrilling pre-cred­its se­quence that recre­ates a Bond version of the Day of the Dead fes­ti­val, shot in Mex­ico City with 1,500 cos­tumed ex­tras, where Bond kills an as­sas­sin (Alessan­dro Cre­mona) and two ac­com­plices be­fore they can blow up a sta­dium. The se­quence was han­dled by ILM’s new Lon­don of­fice and it rep­re­sents a first for Lu­cas­film.

“(Di­rec­tor) Sam Mendes was ner­vous about VFX on Sky­fall and he had such a good ex­pe­ri­ence that he com­pletely em­braced it on SPEC­TRE,” says Steve Begg, pro­duc­tion VFX su­per­vi­sor. “In fact, the use of vir­tual en­vi­ron­ments for the SPEC­TRE base in the crater in Morocco would not have been pos­si­ble with­out such trust. And also the he­li­copter fight, which is en­tirely CG in wide shots.”

It be­gins with a very long track­ing shot fol­low­ing Bond through the fes­ti­val with an es­cort (Stephanie Sig­man), into a ho­tel, up the el­e­va­tor and into her room. In fact, it’s ac­tu­ally six shots in dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions (Mex­ico as well as Pinewood in Lon­don) seam­lessly stitched to­gether by ILM and in­clud­ing lots of crowd repli­ca­tion and set ex­ten­sions.

The build­ing where the shoot­ing and explosion take place was en­tirely CG, com­plete with rigs by spe­cial ef­fects su­per­vi­sor Chris Cor­bould and a col­laps­ing floor.

A Hy­brid Ap­proach Then there’s a fight be­tween Bond and the as­sas­sin on an out-of-con­trol he­li­copter that takes off in Zocalo Square. “It’s a hy­brid of dif­fer­ent ap­proaches,” says Begg. “When the he­li­copter takes off, ini­tially, that is all real with a crowd of 1,500 ex­tras around. But the mo­ment the cam­era goes higher than 6 feet, the CG ex­ten­sions start to kick in.

Daniel Craig’s fourth turn as Agent 007.

And they used dig­i­tal dou­bles of the ac­tors at higher al­ti­tude shots.

“Then, when they get into the crazy aer­o­bat­ics, we shot that 100 miles south of Mex­ico City at an aero­drome. Sam in­sisted that it had to be a real he­li­copter be­cause you could tell by the cam­era work and light­ing that they’re CG. So when you see the really wide shots, it’s a gen­uine he­li­copter with a CG Zocalo Square and crowds un­derneath. There are a few shots where the he­li­copter ac­tu­ally buzzes the square at the lo­ca­tion with an en­tirely CG crowd. There is, how­ever, one shot we had done amongst the crowd look­ing up as this he­li­copter swoops over cam­era dan­ger­ously close. That was a one-take won­der.”

The Aus­tria chase in­volv­ing Bond in a plane and Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista) was very in­volv­ing for MPC Canada. “You had a CG plane, the mo­ment it gets be­yond the tree line,” Begg says. “We had a fullscale rigged but it wasn’t an­i­mated enough for Sam. It didn’t fall around as much and he wanted to im­ply that Bond was strug­gling to keep the plane down at that al­ti­tude. So MPC cre­ated a pho­to­re­al­is­tic snow plane, as we call it. Then when the thing crashes onto the ground, it’s a full-scale prop with a Ski-Doo bike in­side it and we added CG pro­pel­lers and plumes of snow com­ing from that part of the plane.”

Go­ing Big on Set Mean­while, in Morocco, there’s a se­quence of ex­plo­sions that were rigged by Cor­bould — pur­port­edly the big­gest ever in a movie. Th­ese were done in-cam­era and ILM did the vir­tual en­vi­ron­ments of the mis­sile base. Even the walk up to the villa was all CG by ILM.

Lon­don Dou­ble Neg­a­tive did the de­mo­li­tion of MI6 as a CG model. “We started with a minia­ture, but un­for­tu­nately Chris and I were un­com­fort­able with the fact that we’d only have one go at it be­cause we had so much work else­where on the film,” Begg says. “We shot the thing, nonethe­less, and it wasn’t as suc­cess­ful as we’d hoped. In par­al­lel with that, I com­mis­sioned Dou­ble Neg­a­tive to build a CG model and that’s what you see in the film.”

The cli­mac­tic boat chase in Lon­don and shoot­ing down of the he­li­copter are pretty much in-cam­era. “But we did work on the em­bank­ment. Be­cause we shot in sum­mer and it was very green, Sam wanted to keep a win­tery look. So all the trees and the build­ings be­hind the trees are CG con­structs by Dou­ble Neg­a­tive. The he­li­copter crash was scaled but done on a par­tial set of West­min­ster Bridge with a huge amount of set ex­ten­sion work of Lon­don en­vi­ron­ment by Dou­ble Neg­a­tive,” says Begg.

Yes, the adorable mouse that Bond con­verses with in Tang­ier is CG (by Ci­ne­site), as is Blofeld’s tor­ture ma­chine (by ILM) that he tries to lo­bot­om­ize Bond with.

“Daniel Craig is par­tic­u­larly good to work with for us,” Begg says. “He’s very help­ful, very un­der­stand­ing of what we want and was ac­tu­ally re­spond­ing to noth­ing there. And that made our job eas­ier when we had to put the (drill) in his head.” Bill De­sowitz is owner of Im­mersed in Movies (www.billdes­owitz.com), au­thor of James Bond Un­masked (www.james­bon­dun­masked.com) and a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to Thomp­son on Hol­ly­wood and An­i­ma­tion Scoop at Indiewire.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.