The actors face was modeled in 3D and using Nuke, Maya and Z-brush, unwrapped, re-touched and composited into the shots combining 2D UV space and CG elements. One particular sequence, featuring a close up of Chang’s face, required fully CG eyes to replace what was captured in camera. Dessero comments “We needed to find the right balance between making the English actor look Korean but yet allow the audience to recognize the actor from his earlier appearance in the film as an American traveler. Faces are always a challenge to work on and these shots needed a lot of fine tuning and really pushed our development of a robust facial clean up pipeline”.
In several action packed scenes, a relatively small section of the environment shot on set (often just a floor against a green screen) needed to be integrated into a CG environment with added smoke, tracer fire, lasers, explosions and melting metal. To be consistent throughout, the FX artists needed to ensure they seamlessly matched the on-set SFX explosions with CGI elements.
Stephane Naze, VFX Supervisor in London notes “Keying the green screen was frequently complex due to the on-set smoke, explosions and stroboscopic flashes in the foreground. It was quite amazing to compare the original plates and with the final results, and seeing how much production value we added in post.”
Another explosive effect Method worked on was the “Kirby Dot gun” (also known as Kirby Krackle). This was styled on the legendary comic artist Jack Kirby`s technique for illustrating explosions and energy. Naze comments “The effect consists of varied sized black dots, filled with energy, light and lens flares – all of which produce a visually strong impact. It was not easy to adapt a static 2D comic book style effect into something with volume and animation. It was a fun challenge to interpret the vision imagined by the Wachowski’s and Tom Tykwer.”
Making the most of Method’s international network, the 338 effects shots were shared across the Los Angeles, London and Vancouver studios and split up by key sequences. Olivier Pron, Philippe Gaullier and Paul Chandler from Method London contributed concept design work for the movie’s art department as well as finished matte paintings for the show. Both the CG models and motion graphics assets created by Method were shared internally and also passed on to other vendors such as ILM and Scanline.