ILM VFX Supervisor Talks About The CGI Effects Behind the Matera Sequence in NTTD.

Before and Afters just published an interesting interview with the film's CG supervisor from Industrial Light and Magic, Stephen Ellis.
A key moment in Cary Fukunaga’s No Time To Die sees Bond (Daniel Craig) and Madeleine (Léa Seydoux) under a barrage of bullet fire in an Aston Martin DB5 in the middle of a square in the Italian town of Matera. That sequence involved a careful coordination of special effects and stunt work, including the bullet hits, which was then augmented by visual effects from Industrial Light & Magic.

Here, ILM CG supervisor Stephen Ellis tells befores & afters about taking what were sometimes ‘decals’ of cracked glass bullet hit shapes on the DB5 on set, and then crafting final shots using several different methods, all while maintaining bullet hit continuity. Ellis also discusses other VFX work by ILM in Matera, and one unusual challenge which came during tracking super-high resolution IMAX film plates for chase sequences.

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b&a: I really liked the mix of approaches to achieving shots in the film, from stunts to special effects and digital effects and digital environments. So, congratulations on being part of that work.

Stephen Ellis: It was a really good example of where you are partnered with the Production’s other departments. You’re right, loads of stunts—undeniably amazing stunts—and loads of practical effects. But the visual effects team was there at the end to make sure that we could pull all of this together. So, yes, we had stuntmen jumping off bridges, but we also had digi-doubles jumping off bridges as well.

The way it was edited, we tried to use as much of those remarkable stunts as we could, but we then came in to supplement. Maybe there was an angle that they didn’t quite capture that the director wanted. It’s very fast paced, so a lot of our shots slot into this high pace, high action, very “frenetic” sequence. I think when you look back at the body of work, you’d be quite pushed to see any of the shots that actually stood out as visual effects shots. I’ve worked on a couple of Bond films, and it’s always about creating effects that are seamless to the viewer, which as a visual effects artist is absolutely what I strive for. I’m really passionate about those really truly invisible effects.

b&a: Can you talk first about the environmental work in Matera?

Stephen Ellis: We did quite a lot of environment augmentation. There was a bridge at a site nearby that we did a lot of photogrammetry on. Then we took our plates from Matera and we bolted in this VFX bridge, which allowed us to make much nicer compositions or to be able to design the kinds of compositions the director was after, where we could use the bridge to draw your eye into the focal point of the shot which was the town.

There’s one shot, where the DB5 is going through a tunnel approaching Matera, there are so many visual effects in that shot; lots of plate stitches, digital environments, and for the town itself, there were lots of augmentations added there also. The creative story point is that Bond and Madeleine arrive at Matera during a night of celebrations where people around the city are burning their wishes. There were lots of digital crowds added and then lots of digital fires and embers, I think we really helped bring it to life. We even replaced the DB5 in that shot just because it was coming through a very dark tunnel. We were given beautiful IMAX plates to work with.

b&a: You mentioned photogrammetry of the bridge. Did ILM get to be there to take reference and gather all the photo and Lidar reference?

Stephen Ellis: Yes, ILM visual effects supervisor Mark Bakowski was on the shoot. The production themselves had a big team of data wranglers so we would typically get the data from them. It’s a funny thing to say, but sometimes we’d receive a plate with what was considered these slightly ‘pedestrian’ backgrounds of these beautiful Italian rolling hills. It wasn’t quite what was required for the script, so we replaced the rolling hills with the facades of this incredible town of Matera with all the caves and the amazing way that the buildings are built into the rock. A lot of the team from ILM were from our generalist environments department and they really did some classic digimatte work on this.

b&a: Was there a particular approach here for that sort of work?

Stephen Ellis: We tend to use whatever approach works. I used to work in the digimatte department. My preferred approach is always to try and start with photography. Particularly on a Bond film, you want it to look like that location, so of course you start with the location photography. That’s what I mean about this classic digimatte work, a lot of the approaches that the generalist team were doing was taking photography, stitching it together to create backgrounds and then building into it. Depending on shot complexity we’d typically be then making the photography two-and-a-half-D, and then combining that with renders of trees and forests—which are not going to be done as images on cards—because you’re not going to get the right result.

There’s one little beat where Bond jumps off the bridge with the rope; some of the shots looking back into the ravine are fully digital renders where we started with photogrammetry backgrounds with digital matte paint finishing. But then the trees are so close that those trees are added as digital 3d renders.

b&a: And you mentioned something which I really liked, which is the way it’s edited, there’ll be an ILM visual effects shot, and then it’s cut right up against a real one. One of the ones I’m thinking of is when Bond has to hide behind that stone so that the car goes over him. I mean, I assume it’s a CG car.

Stephen Ellis: It is CG, you’re right. I mean, cast and crew safety is paramount, you would never put an actor in that kind of danger. So yes, CG car for the bump into the stone and the dive over, but cut around practical elements of the same car. I really do want to give a bit of a nod to the lookdev team because those renders are really pretty seamless. It was such a good match to the practical car.

That scene starts, at the head of the cut is a car at the far end of the bridge. That’s a real car, and that’s your practical reference there, although when Primo turns up on the bike, we were doing digital head replacements. We put the digital car shot in and then the reverse shot would be a practical car again.

b&a: What about that very keystone motorcycle jump?

Stephen Ellis: It was a really nice mix between visual effects and the other production departments. It was quite remarkable. They did that stunt for real. They built this amazingly scary ramp that was painted blue. That stunt was actually shot practically and we didn’t change any of that. The main bulk of our work was actually just taking out the blue ramp and making it look like old brick and rock.

We also did a head replacement because the stunt performer was wearing a safety helmet for obvious reasons. The bike sequences were really interesting. Practically all of those shots are head replacements combined with digital doubles for Daniel Craig.

I think right until the last shot where he steps off the bike, I think even the step off includes at least portions of our digi-double. We’re not fully digital, but we would keep maybe parts of the clothes, and add digital trousers and shoes, because the stunt performers had special effects safe footwear on. We would just do little augmentations, while trying to maintain the performance of the stunt performer, and then it would be a digi Bond head. It cuts so quickly into the then “practical” Daniel Craig actually walking into the hotel. It’s a really nice bringing together of all of the techniques that we used to shoot it. The sequence makes perfect use of invisible visual effects to augment the incredible practical stunt work that Bond films are known for.

b&a: How did ILM approach digital Daniel Craig shots?

Stephen Ellis: ILM was the lead actually on the CG Daniel Craig, and several other digi-doubles. One thing you really might not know, and I’m quite proud to be involved in this project because of this, there was a sequence inside the boat where Ash and Bond have a fight. That was captured with two talented stunt performers. So that sequence required face replacements. I think it’s pretty seamless work when you look back at it.

b&a: That’s amazing.

Stephen Ellis: The director, Cary Fukunaga, wanted to shoot a facial performance for every shot. He didn’t want a team of animators doing keyframe facial expressions; he really wanted the performances coming from the talent themselves. We had an ILM Medusa and Anyma shoot for every scene, which meant we could rely on that facial capture.

Now, if you look at Daniel Craig’s acting, the character that he’s playing, it’s quite a cool, calm –

b&a: – stoic?

Stephen Ellis: Yes, stoic performance. We’ve got quite a lot of experience in doing this here, so we would show the first version of the performance to see how it was working for the shot. If the request came through for a facial performance change, we could take performances from other takes and mix them in to get the best result for the shot, but the approach was always face cap; Medusa, performance driven.

b&a: And does that just involve setting up a Medusa and Anyma rig?

Stephen Ellis: Yes. The production and Charlie engaged with that. We had a list of all of the shots that we wanted to do facial performances for. We would have Daniel in the right shooting conditions to get the best performance and to get the best animated mesh back, so we control the conditions pretty tightly. We would get Daniel or Nomi and all of these characters in and they would shoot the performances that the director was after.

b&a: Let’s turn to the Aston Martin DB5 work, maybe concentrating on the donut square sequence, which I thought was amazing. Clearly Chris Corbould, and the Stunt Coordinator, and special effects work there is incredible. But there’s some really nice augmentation from ILM. What was that?

Stephen Ellis: As you might imagine, the smoke coming out of the exhaust involved heavy effects sims that would augment the practical effects. On-set in Matera, the special effects department did set up squibs and practical elements that would fire off around the environment when the DB5’s rail guns were firing. We took all of that and added to it. We cleaned up where SFX rigs may have been visible, but we’re always just trying to remain faithful to what was shot. The thing that I’m most proud of and I think people probably won’t realise that we did is that the augmentation of the glass bullet hits; building upon the guide from the special effects team who put decals of where the bullet hits would be on the DB5’s glass.

b&a: Okay, wait. This is one of my favorite things. The bullet hits. My next question was going to be, I am so impressed by the continuity of the bullet hits, and I just don’t know how something like that is achieved.

Stephen Ellis: That took a lot of work. There were five DB5s that were actually built that were taken to Matera. The special effects team put these decals onto the DB5s and they shot the sequence. Of course they’re not going to be firing real guns at safety glass particularly when you’ve got stunt performers inside. The brief came to ILM to expand or augment these glass cracks.

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One thing that’s really interesting looking back on this sequence is just how many techniques we employed. If it was a wide shot or a close-in, it could have been a mix of 2D or fully 3D rendered glass, or composited photographic elements, depending on which car they used and what the shot requirements were.

The way that we approached it was, we had the decals from the special effects team – so that’s what was shot. In comp, we kind of started at the end of the pipeline and went backwards. So the compositing team took the track of the DB5 and baked down the position of the decals into the UV space. It went back up the pipe to the FX team who could then take the 2D projected decals, then take that image input and with various tools we developed within Houdini, they could trace those 2D locations back into a 3D representation of where the decals were and how they were moving in 3d space.

One of our artists, Michael Cashmore, came up with this beautiful system that could work with either this 2D input, or a 3D input coming from the layout team’s tracking locators. One of the problems that we had was, we only had one digital DB5, but there were five different stunt cars that were taken to set. They might be manufactured slightly differently, you couldn’t tell by looking at them, but when you really got into the fidelity of the tracking that we do, you start to notice, this car is a minutely bit longer or the windscreen, and a bit different on this one, etc.

We’d have our layout team put 3d locators where each of these decals were and track these. Then that could be cached to the FX team as a moving bundle of 3D points. Michael set up this technique where he could read in either the 2D ones or the 3D ones and trace their locations back into the DB5 model, which would then drive a next-generation glass fracturing process. This would normally be based off of photography, so we’d give the FX team the photographic elements of cracks that we wanted to use. And then for some of the shots the compositing team were taking the elements and directly mapping them onto the car model.

The FX team were taking the same set of images and shattering the glass based off of the same crack patterns. But then some of the shots got way more complex. You had people firing at the cars and you actually had simulated glass coming off. There’s one amazing shot where it’s really close up on the inside and it’s looking at that pattern, where Primo’s firing at the foreground window. That was actually an element shoot, but we augmented it, putting digital Matera in the background.

The continuity was something that we really paid close attention to. Mark Bakowski was really eagle-eyed on that, making sure that all of those glass hits did carry through the sequence.

And then right at the end, in one of the last two shots, you’ll see it where the car’s speeding towards the train station. It was one of those shots which was actually flopped when we got the plate. So we had to flop the plate, re-flop all of the signage, because of course that would all be backwards. And then the DB5 and the characters inside needing to be flopped, so all of the continuity of the bullet hits was the other way around. So we had to replace the DB5 in the plate with a fully digital car on a flopped plate.

b&a: It’s amazing work.

Stephen Ellis: I’m really proud of that glass work, as well as the sequence overall. The system the team built was really robust to be able to get an input from comp or an input from layout and produce the fracturing. I really need to give a nod to the comp team though because they were the first team to start driving and developing the look of this glass bullet hit effect, as well as the sequence continuity. As the shots developed, comp then started raising the issue of which elements they were going to need to really sell the effect. That’s when we started rebuilding our systems to try and help give them elements that they would need. And then by the end of it, we had shots where it was just a full digital car with digital glass, with digi doubles inside as well.

b&a: And just in that ‘donut’ square, I imagine you’re just doing other fixes like tire marks and things like that.

Stephen Ellis: It was remarkable what our Paint department was doing. If you can imagine, the process of filming take after take builds up all this burnt rubber on the street. We had to replace the ground back to the clean streets on practically every car shot. In fact, it’s not even just on the square; for the whole sequence in general, all of the cars chasing around the city; some of those cobbled streets were just covered in the previous takes’ tire marks, so most of the cobbled streets are replaced.

There are quite a few fully digital shots as well within that sequence where the filmmakers ultimately wanted shots that they didn’t capture with the main cameras. The production had an array vehicle that we would get a lot of footage from. So for some of the shots we could take that array footage and stitch it together to create new plates. Sometimes it was entirely digimatte. So we’d have LIDAR, we’d create digital models of the environment, but we’d take still or moving photography from the set. We’d project it all out and we’d just make up shots; the shot where the Land Rover smashes into the DB5, that’s a completely digital background and a digital Land Rover as well coming in, so it’s a foreground plate of Bond and Madeleine, but then everything out the back is digital.

b&a: Those array vehicles are kind of cool. What do you actually get from them? Is it literally six pieces of running footage?

Stephen Ellis: Yeah, pretty much. Typically, it would be shot with RED cameras, since they’re high resolution and small and you can sync them very easily. We also had a fisheye camera on top, and you can transform that into a high dynamic range IBL to render with if needed.

b&a: You already mentioned the smoke when he does the donuts. Were you having to integrate any kind of special effects smoke with your CG smoke or did they just shoot some great clean plates for you?

Stephen Ellis: No, it was additional FX integrated with special effects. I mean, as visual effects we would always say, please shoot something. Even if we end up using this only as reference, it gives us something real there that we can latch onto. I think that’s paramount to the success of the effects work in the Bond films.

b&a: The other thing I wanted to ask you was about integrating ILM’s digital work into the plates. What were the challenges there?

Stephen Ellis: One particular challenge actually in Matera was, it was shot on IMAX, so we were getting IMAX plates. Those IMAX cameras have an absolutely massive film back, something like seven centimetres. And those cars are driving over cobbled streets as well. When we were trying to do the tracking work, we’ve never really experienced that level of vibration. You’ve got the suspension of the car shaking around and you’ve got this huge camera, the massive film back, and you’ve got the film in there that’s actually shaking around, too.

Our layout team did such a good job tracking those plates. All of our tracking points were locked on to all of the 2D tracks and everything was tracking really well. But we were occasionally seeing slightly different motion blur on our renders compared to certain parts of the plate. We internally talked about it and we concluded that it was almost like a difference in sub-frame curves because there was so much vibration. So we started considering, should we even be doing subframe tracking here?

I mean, we wouldn’t have had any frames of course to be doing sub-frame tracking with, but we realised that even between frames – the film or the film back–whatever it was, was vibrating in a way that certain parts of the plate were getting a kind of extra blur.

When you’re working at that really high IMAX resolution, there were times when we started evaluating each quadrant of the image and we provided multiple QC views centred around individual tracks for different parts of the image. So everything we were rendering, we were also having to occasionally go through each quadrant of the frame and work out; everything is sticking but is the changing blur working correctly or do we need this kind of sub frame, extra high frequency blur? So the comp team were then occasionally adding these additional vibrational blurs across portions of the frame on top of what we were rendering to get that true integration. It’s really mad when you think about it.

b&a: Wow, yeah.

Stephen Ellis: If you think about the minutiae of those curves, the fidelity that we needed to be working at and the fidelity of how we were reviewing everything as well. It was the last project I worked on before COVID, where we were reviewing everything still massive on the screen in a review room.

b&a: How did all that impact the way you ultimately completed the shots?

Stephen Ellis: It was a combination of teams. The tracks were for all intents and purposes perfect to the data that we had, which was obviously shooting at 24 frames per second. You could step through each frame and you could see that all of the tracks were sticking perfectly, but it was the way the camera curves would be changing between frames that we needed to be matching. We were often giving comp a cropped-in section of a certain corner of the plate and rendering them an image that was centred around a specific track point, with the plate moving around that track so that comp could see this isolated vibration, which incredibly they managed to match to.

b&a: That’s fascinating. I wonder if other productions have come across that, but it could be very particular to shooting a car chase on cobblestones and on IMAX.

Stephen Ellis: I think that’s certainly the most challenging plate shoot that I think I’ve seen our layout team deal with. Number one’s the resolution, those huge plates, but number two is that it’s a car chase over cobblestones where the camera team is being shaken all over the place. We really were having to think about, okay, now we’ve got all the movement of the car locked down, what else do we need to match? It was a really scientific approach from lots of different people to figure out how we successfully did this.

https://beforesandafters.com/2022/01/19/you-wont-believe-the-incredible-visual-effects-work-that-went-into-the-bullet-hits-on-the-aston-martin-db5-in-no-time-to-die/

Comments

  • VenutiusVenutius Yorkshire
    Posts: 1,287
    CGI head replacements for the motorbike stunts, fair enough - but the Bond and Ash fight was two stuntmen with Dan and Billy's faces CGId on later? Craig would've kept his teeth if they'd been able to do that in CR...
  • Posts: 1,314
    I think the film has the best visual effects because they are practically unnoticeable. I mean I never knew any of the matera scene was cgi - face recognition aside.

    But it does kind of jar with the “doing it for real” pr spin. The might as well shoot the whole thing on a blue screen or in a 360° video tank like the mandolorian
  • QBranchQBranch Always have an escape plan. Mine is watching James Bond films.
    Posts: 12,272
    The specific moments would've been when Bond throws Ash on the ground; when Bond tackles Ash and his head hits the ceiling. We've come along way since a dummy Roger being held up by Jaws.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 10,706
    Yes the Bond/Ash foght was the surprise in there for me too- amazing.
    I knew the Maserati on the bridge was CG from a previous article but it really is terrific work.
  • talos7talos7 New Orleans
    Posts: 6,581
    Seeing how effective the CG automobile work is, maybe they could go back and add some vehicles to the SPECTRE chase between Bond and Hinx; it would provide some much needed tension . ;)
  • Posts: 430
    Matt007 wrote: »
    I think the film has the best visual effects because they are practically unnoticeable. I mean I never knew any of the matera scene was cgi - face recognition aside.

    But it does kind of jar with the “doing it for real” pr spin. The might as well shoot the whole thing on a blue screen or in a 360° video tank like the mandolorian

    Oh yeah, the whole "doing it for real" PR spin really pisses me off on these movies. There's nothing wrong with VFX! It's a perfectly valid way to make movies and tell stories. There's no need to belittle the talented, over-worked artists who create these images.

    JJ Abrams did this all the time in press for "The Force Awakens" and it frustrated me to no end.
  • True, it IS a very unfair situation. But at least they're able to talk about in detail and give pictures.

    The Mission Impossible films and Christopher Nolan's work use just as much VFX but they're contractually obligated not to discuss it, let alone release before-and-after pictures.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 10,706
    Are they not? The only thing I remember is that they didn’t want to give away how much of the traffic in the Fallout motorbike chase was CG, but I’ve seen pre-CG shots of stuff like the underwater Torus scene.
  • edited January 24 Posts: 422
    mtm wrote: »
    Are they not? The only thing I remember is that they didn’t want to give away how much of the traffic in the Fallout motorbike chase was CG, but I’ve seen pre-CG shots of stuff like the underwater Torus scene.

    They seem to have amped it up with each successive film.

    I remember there was a minor controversy with the Fallout in the Special Effects magazine Cinefex, where at the last minute they asked them to cut huge sections of the article and not use any of the comparison pictures.
  • Posts: 430
    True, it IS a very unfair situation. But at least they're able to talk about in detail and give pictures.

    The Mission Impossible films and Christopher Nolan's work use just as much VFX but they're contractually obligated not to discuss it, let alone release before-and-after pictures.

    Goodness, yes. I love Nolan's work but his/his peoples attitude towards CG really disappoints me. Especially because the CG stuff in, like, "The Dark Knight Rises" or "Interstellar" is wonderful! Magnificent!

    I'm glad, at least with "No Time to Die" as you say, they are able to talk about it. I have a Twitter mutual who is a VFX artist who loved reading this article.
  • CraigMooreOHMSSCraigMooreOHMSS Dublin, Ireland
    Posts: 7,094
    mtm wrote: »
    Are they not? The only thing I remember is that they didn’t want to give away how much of the traffic in the Fallout motorbike chase was CG, but I’ve seen pre-CG shots of stuff like the underwater Torus scene.

    They seem to have amped it up with each successive film.

    I remember there was a minor controversy with the Fallout in the Special Effects magazine Cinefex, where at the last minute they asked them to cut huge sections of the article and not use any of the comparison pictures.

    Did the halo jump factor in to that article, I wonder? I had heard from a pretty trustworthy source that most of that scene was done on a wind tunnel with all the backgrounds digitally added afterwards; pretty much the only shot that was from an actual skydiving jump was the (still admittely brilliant) exit from the plane itself. And they really, really talked up that halo jump in the lead up to release.
  • Posts: 1,314
    I have no issue with vfx. They’ve been around as long as cinema.

    But I think it’s disingenuous to talk endlessly about doing it for real if that’s not the case. It’s mostly to pacify people who thought the prequels were bad cgi fests and make us forget the tsunami in DAD. I’m sure the extra on the motorbike guy in the matera scene who goes between bond and the pursuers is cgi.

    On the flip side adding cgi cars to the rome chase in spectre would have helped immeasurably.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 10,706
    mtm wrote: »
    Are they not? The only thing I remember is that they didn’t want to give away how much of the traffic in the Fallout motorbike chase was CG, but I’ve seen pre-CG shots of stuff like the underwater Torus scene.

    They seem to have amped it up with each successive film.

    I remember there was a minor controversy with the Fallout in the Special Effects magazine Cinefex, where at the last minute they asked them to cut huge sections of the article and not use any of the comparison pictures.

    Did the halo jump factor in to that article, I wonder? I had heard from a pretty trustworthy source that most of that scene was done on a wind tunnel with all the backgrounds digitally added afterwards; pretty much the only shot that was from an actual skydiving jump was the (still admittely brilliant) exit from the plane itself. And they really, really talked up that halo jump in the lead up to release.

    I’m a bit dubious about that. I think it is a shame that the skies and ground were added in CG for that but I’m not sure I buy that story.
  • CraigMooreOHMSSCraigMooreOHMSS Dublin, Ireland
    Posts: 7,094
    mtm wrote: »
    mtm wrote: »
    Are they not? The only thing I remember is that they didn’t want to give away how much of the traffic in the Fallout motorbike chase was CG, but I’ve seen pre-CG shots of stuff like the underwater Torus scene.

    They seem to have amped it up with each successive film.

    I remember there was a minor controversy with the Fallout in the Special Effects magazine Cinefex, where at the last minute they asked them to cut huge sections of the article and not use any of the comparison pictures.

    Did the halo jump factor in to that article, I wonder? I had heard from a pretty trustworthy source that most of that scene was done on a wind tunnel with all the backgrounds digitally added afterwards; pretty much the only shot that was from an actual skydiving jump was the (still admittely brilliant) exit from the plane itself. And they really, really talked up that halo jump in the lead up to release.

    I’m a bit dubious about that. I think it is a shame that the skies and ground were added in CG for that but I’m not sure I buy that story.

    Fair enough, but I personally have no reason to doubt the person that told me. He's a lead instructor at this place and they also did a lot of training there in the lead up (it's based in Bedford) - it gave him a major cock-of-the-walk arrogance once he was able to tell people he trained Tom Cruise how to fly! They constructed an outdoor tunnel so that they could practice their manouevres, so it's not really a stretch to imagine them in costume, shooting in a place where they have full control.

    My father is a skydiving instructor, too, and his opinion on it was that there was definite wizardry going on. There are quite a lot of masked cuts in the scene.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    edited January 24 Posts: 10,706
    Well there's lots of cuts, they never hid that- otherwise they wouldn't have been shooting it for so long! But why have a double for Cavill in the scene if he could have been doing it on the ground? I'm sure they got some practice at this place but I wouldn't be sure about 'most' of it being done in a tunnel. Quite a few of the shots are just shot from too far away.
    There are a couple of shots in the Quantum of Solace skydive which are shot in a wind tunnel and they look pretty pony.
  • CraigMooreOHMSSCraigMooreOHMSS Dublin, Ireland
    edited January 24 Posts: 7,094
    Yep - those were done in Bedford too, I believe! So it wouldn't be the first time! :)

    Considering Cavill didn't really need to be doing anything at all in the scene other than reverse plank, a double isn't really all that much of a stretch either.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    edited January 24 Posts: 10,706
    Well no, that's the scene as it ended up being filmed i.e they constructed it around the limitations they faced. If they could have safely got Cavill in it, and not found a reason for his mask to be fogged up to handily obscure his face, they would have. Look at all the helicopter stuff he was doing at the end.
    It's all pretty dubious.
  • CraigMooreOHMSSCraigMooreOHMSS Dublin, Ireland
    Posts: 7,094
    I'm not really sure what difference that makes, unless they tried different things and couldn't make them work. Was there ever any other ideas for the scene other than for his mask to be fogged up, while unconscious, considering the idea is that he lost his oxygen? Was there another concept being floated about that gave us a very specific look at his face during the sequence? I don't recall one being mentioned before; I know they spoke at length about improvising the Paris chase alright, but the halo always seemed set in stone conceptually. I know Cavill said he would have loved to have "done the halo himself" in an interview, but couldn't for insurance reasons.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    edited January 24 Posts: 10,706
    If you're saying that they actually shot the scene in a totally secret way and lied to us about how they filmed it, how on earth would we know about how it was originally written? You're saying they're lying.

    As you know, MacQuarrie makes this stuff up as he goes and fits it all around what they can do and locations they have. If those insurance and safety considerations about Cavill hadn't been there I don't buy for a moment that he wouldn't have used him (and why would Cavil had said he'd have loved to do it if it were always set in stone that he couldn't possibly be visible at any point? More likely the scene was in flux for a while like most of them are). It just doesn't ring true.
  • CraigMooreOHMSSCraigMooreOHMSS Dublin, Ireland
    edited January 24 Posts: 7,094
    For someone who regularly calls out other people for their unpleasantness, you're awfully difficult to have a conversation with. Horribly condescending.
    mtm wrote: »
    If you're saying that they actually shot the scene in a totally secret way and lied to us about how they filmed it, how on earth would we know about how it was originally written? You're saying they're lying.

    Yes, but you're framing it as me having a go and it's not really me insulting them in any way. They just did a bit of movie magic as far as I'm concerned and that's fine - that's what filmmakers do. They didn't actually do the initial jump over Paris, after all.

    Cavill's an actor selling a film - if he's asked about the halo jump then he's going to provide something in response. What I love about what he says is that he amped up the danger aspect of the sequence. It's great PR! :)
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    edited January 24 Posts: 10,706
    For someone who regularly calls out other people for their unpleasantness, you're awfully difficult to have a conversation with. Horribly condescending.

    That's certainly not my intention and reading it back I can't see what you mean, but I'm sorry you feel that way.
    mtm wrote: »
    If you're saying that they actually shot the scene in a totally secret way and lied to us about how they filmed it, how on earth would we know about how it was originally written? You're saying they're lying.

    Yes, but you're framing it as me having a go and it's not really me insulting them in any way.

    No I'm not saying you're having a go at all: I'm just saying that if your claim is that their story about filming it all in the skies above Utah or wherever it was is actually untrue and they secretly shot it on the ground in Bedford but don't want to tell anyone, then equally we'd have no reason to believe their claims about how the sequence was written. I'm not trying to be patronising or condescending with that: I'm just writing this in a totally matter-of-fact way and I honestly can't think of any other way to phrase it.

    I know they didn't do the jump over Paris: they talk about that and I'm pretty sure show a few before-and-after shots in the behind the scenes stuff.
    Cavill's an actor selling a film - if he's asked about the halo jump then he's going to provide something in response. What I love about what he says is that he amped up the danger aspect of the sequence. It's great PR! :)

    Well sure, but equally he'd have a point: if they were shooting it on the ground he actually would have no reason not to get involved (I don't think he had extensive amounts of scenes without Cruise in). Unless we're saying they're kept him out in order to try and make it more believable that the whole thing was shot at altitude.. which would be a bit of a reach. Maybe this guy you spoke to saw them rehearsing various moves, maybe in costume, and couldn't tell if they were shooting or not?
  • edited January 25 Posts: 422
    (accidentally deleted and double posted)
  • I mean, I think in truth it was probably switched together from a number of different pieces of filming. As with most of the action sequences in these movies.

    They probably did a good number of actual HALO Jumps and then shot additional sequences shot later (whether in Bedford or the studio, idk) because even the best camera team can't capture everything perfectly while flying through the air.

    All of which was then stitched together and augmented by VFX, it's a good sequence and an impressive technical achievement but there is no way it's just made up of footage captured in the air.

    :Edit: Just watched through on youtube, here are my thoughts on just the last bit of the sequence based on my own experience of these things in the industry. Fully admit I could be wrong.

    nbLIlXe.png
    Genuine HALO Jump, with desert below replaced with CGI Paris.

    kkFdFOm.png
    sWLt9NA.png

    Then transitioning to footage filmed on the ground augmented with VFX.

    The camera is just too stable for too long here, Cruise's face is always kept perfectly in shot and perfectly lit. Impossible to achieve for such an extended period of time when falling through the air.


    9w7wlPs.png
    When they fall away from the cameras it goes back to the HALO footage. Augmented by CGI Paris.

    0DVCI5l.png
    Transitioning to the fully CGI shot here, where Hunt, the building, the parachute, and the ground are all created by VFX.

  • CraigMooreOHMSSCraigMooreOHMSS Dublin, Ireland
    Posts: 7,094
    I can get behind that, @AKillToAView! Seems very reasonable to me. I'll have to go and rewatch the sequence again myself and see if I notice anything else about it with regards your assessment - but that all seems pretty logical!

    One thing as well I love about the sequence, regardless of where it was shot; when Hunt flips Walker over to get him into the right position to deploy his parachute is an incredibly difficult manouevre to pull off without losing control - even moreso when the guy is much bigger than you. Major kudos to Cruise for that.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    edited January 25 Posts: 10,706
    There's zero doubt that it's stitched together from lots of different shots: I don't think anyone imagined it isn't and I'm sure they've said as much whenever it's talked about (what I've never understood is I'm sure it's often been reported as them being real HALO jumps, and I don't get why they would have to be - that may be something which has been reported incorrectly. Perhaps it's the beginning of the jump where Cruise is above the clouds, but there'd be no reason to do the 'LO' bit). And yes, the landing has to be CG, again no doubt about that. What I am quite surprised by watching the making of is that I thought the initial one-shot thing of him walking the ramp, back again, Walker tearing off his hose and then diving out actually is a real oner: I thought that was stitched together too.

    As for the close-up: well maybe, but I don't think it has to be and also if it were I'm surprised they wouldn't have used Cavill for it and given him a big KO-ed close up. I'd also very much say that shot can't be described as 'most of the scene', which is what I took issue with. You can also seem them, by the looks of it, practising the oxygen cylinder shot with 'Walker' on his back at altitude in the making of reel.

    You can also see them using the wind tunnel rig they built in Bedford (this is in their own publicity so not exactly a secret) and using it to do the part with Walker on his back at about 0.47 secs. Is it a full dress rehearsal or an actual shot used in the film? Tricky to tell but it does look perfectly lit.

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