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Author Topic: RED - CIS Vancouver goes Badass  (Read 3672 times)
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Jill Pearson
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« on: October 25, 2010, 03:49:09 PM »

RED - CIS Vancouver goes Badass
Posted on Oct 24, 2010 by Ian Failes
From FXGuide http://www.fxguide.com/article653.html

Director Robert Schwentke's Red tells the story of ex-CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) recruiting his former team to help him defeat a hi-tech assassin. CIS Vancouver contributed 220 shots to the film ranging from detailed composites, CG bullets, an exploding RPG and plentiful destruction. We talk to CIS vfx supe Randy Goux.

fxg: One of my favourite shots is the one of Bruce Willis' character exiting a spinning car on the street. How did that come together?

Goux: That's Bruce Willis' big ex-CIA badass moment where you don't really see it coming. They're driving down the street and they get T-boned by an SUV. Bruce steps out of the car doing a 360, eyes focused on the SUV, pulls his gun, and he's Bruce - he's back. So how do you shoot something like that? Because obviously you can't have you highest paid actor stepping out of a car doing a 360 on a wet street. So, you have Bruce on a greenscreen stage on a moving cart. Our job was to encase him inside the police car and have him interact with it.

The overall vfx supe, James Madigan, took a police car and put it on a turntable and filmed it spinning. We extracted that car, built it out in 3D and composited Bruce inside the car stepping out at the same time. There was a lot of integration involved in putting that car out onto the street in Louisiana. The car's wheels were actually off the ground, so we had to extract it out in 3D, place it back on the road with wet streaks and have the wheels vibrating as it's spinning. And then we had to do some comp tricks on Bruce like shading him as he steps out.

The original photography

The final shot

fxg: How did you approach the compositing for that shot?

Goux: Getting that car in 3D space was the real trick and we used Nuke for that. We had a plate of the car spinning, but you really need to start moving that car around - you can't just do an A over B of Bruce from the greenscreen with the roto and have it perfectly sit in. We extracted the plate of the car turning and projected it back onto a 3D model of the car in Nuke so we could move it around in 3D space. It didn't need to go back into Maya for lighting or anything. Jim Madigan was able to ask for the wheels on the car to be more compressed and we could do it all in Nuke. The car needed to slide and move down the road a bit and we were also able to make that happen. Nuke just opened up lots of iterations and the best thing to have is the ability to pump out lots of iterations in your production pipeline. I think there were about 70 iterations of that shot.

The original photography

The final shot

fxg: Another signature shot in the film is the slow motion one of the bullet hitting the rocket-propelled grenade and the resulting explosion. Can you talk about that?

Goux: Well, everyone knows what a massive fireball looks like when it goes off in the movies, but nobody really sees what happens at the very start of it, up close, in slow motion. We had to work out how that happened. We analysed tonnes of slow motion footage of how metal bends when it's hit by metal. We noticed it doesn't quite tear up like paper. Once metal goes into metal, it's almost like a Terminator effect - a little bit watery. Jim Madigan shot a lot of elements and we talked to the weapons expert about what happens with RPGs and where the tear points would be, how would the metal curl and how the pinholes and pockets would tear into sheets.

The original photography

The final shot

fxg: How did you bend the metal like that?

Goux: We actually used Maya's cloth simulation. It's weird telling people we bent metal that way, but it's basically the dynamics module in Maya we're using. We modelled the RPG, set it up as a cloth object and then you can define its tearing properties. You can have it tear like a paper bag or sheet metal or you can give it whatever threshold you like for the simulation. The sims went back and forth on how tense that metal was and how much we would reveal as the fireballs come out. There was also some fluid dynamics going on in the inner core, basically fire effects that curl around the 'cloth' objects. We also had to define how much mass the bullet going in had and how that correlated with the RPG. We pushed it a little further by animating a few hero pieces coming out towards the camera. The bulk of it was a dynamic simulation where you let the software do its course, but then we augmented that with some hero pieces animated in Maya and also in Nuke.

The original photography

The final shot

fxg: How was that resulting overhead explosion shot achieved?

Goux: That was shot as an in-camera explosion where they're doing their Western show-down and the explosion happens between the two characters. The explosion then fires back at the person firing the RPG who explodes. They shot the whole thing as a one-two explosion and the one went off in the middle and the two, which was the RPG, just went off a second too late. So we had to split the pyro event in half and enhance it by adding a flame thrower effect. We made it shoot it right back at that person on screen right and blow them up. There was a fair amount of surgery in re-timing half of the fire. It wasn't a lot of CG fire but still had some tricky compositing.

fxg: There's some other neat explosions too, like the one where John Malkovich paddles back the grenade with his gun to the other guy.

Goux: Yeah, it's funny, actually, this movie is full of people blowing up but there's obviously something comical about it. Part of it is the actors. I think if you had anyone else paddling a grenade back it wouldn't be funny, but when John Malkovich does it, you just start laughing. We had elements for that again, with pyro at the right angle and a dummy buck character in that space. It was also shot high-speed to get that slow motion curling orange flames look. So in that shot we are behind the guy getting blown up and the flames are literally curling around him as he is engulfed and the flames engulf the camera.

The original photography

The final shot

fxg: Tell me about bullet-holes and bullet hits, because there seem to be a lot of them in this film.

Goux: Well, if you had walked through our facility in July, you could walk through our artist bay and see 25 compositors placing bullet-holes - all day. There's a major continuity effort happening, as in every movie. To do this, we referenced lots of element shoots. We had minutes and minutes of bullets shooting into concrete and metal. And we added actual bullets everywhere and grenades and smoke and things like that. We basically lived bullet holes and destruction. There's one shot in a kitchen where they're fighting the Secret Service. We had to literally destroy walls that were white tiles and add smoke and bullets all over the place. There was some CG moments when the bullets weren't giving us enough chunks and debris, we dabbled in some dynamic stuff. But mainly it was a really hard effort in comp to make the effort work.

fxg: There's a scene with some bullets going off in a frying pan. How was that accomplished?

Goux: It's one of the more stylistic shots in the movie. There's a whole sequence inside the house that has a real graphic novel feel to it. It really builds up this moment where you learn that Bruce is one of the coolest ex-CIA guys you've ever seen. There's a montage where he's setting up some bullets in a frying pan. They do a neat macro shot where the camera is in the pan and pulling back and the bullets are about to go off and it's supposed to throw off the guys storming the house, thinking that there's a gun battle happening in the kitchen.

To shoot the scene, they made 9mm bullets that were about six inches tall and weighed about 10 pounds and filmed them in a frying pan about three feet wide. The bullets are supposed to get hot and bounce around a little bit and the oil is supposed to crackle before the bullets go off. But the bullets were so heavy that they just didn't move around enough in the pan. So we re-built the scene in CG. It was great to have the plate to reference to so we knew what it was supposed to look like. We set the shot up in Maya and then also used Nuke's 3D space to move things around. It also let us deal with the depth of field and all the little nuances the director really needed. We had about 20 different passes for the compers to deal with - normals, z-depths, reflection passes - and then re-lighted things in Nuke where we had to.

The original photography

The final shot

fxg: Finally, can you talk about that long shot of Bruce Willis and Mary-Louise Parker in a police car with the camera moving around?

Goux: That's again one of those shots where you shoot it and then you get handed this puzzle where the pieces don't fit right off the bat. The whole idea was to set up a continuous shot where they're exchanging dialogue and the camera is inside the police car. The camera starts at the back and moves forward between their two heads in a continuous 15 second shot. The trick was how to shoot it on greenscreen and get the backplate for it. What Jim Madigan did was set up a camera car with five different cameras on it and just rolled and went down the street in Louisiana. Then we reverse-engineered the camera move on the greenscreen, got a camera track for that and then used the backplate that was filmed on the street with the five cameras offset at 35 degrees and projected them all at the right place and stitched them together. It's almost like we made a big IMAX screen of all those different views from the cameras and had our CG camera in the middle and could move that around by tracking it in from the movement on the greenscreen for the continuous shot.

Jill Pearson
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