XMen3 FX frenzy
In a film series noted for its huge set pieces and explosive fighting sequences, X-MEN: The Last Stand takes the action to a new level. At the Digital Media Festival in Melbourne on June 7, Academy Award- winning visual effects supervisor John Bruno will outline how stunts, special effects and CG have been judiciously blended to make the action sequences both massive and believable. X-MEN: The Last Stand includes a recreation of Wolverine’s “berserker rage” fighting style – a mad, white rage that makes him virtually unstoppable as well as dizzying wirework that had had Halle Berry taking Dramamine to combat motion sickness. The Golden Gate Bridge figures in the film’s biggest event, as Magneto takes control of the San Francisco landmark, ripping it off its foundations and using it, literally, as a gateway to Alcatraz: ground zero for the cure’s development and distribution. This scene is the biggest in any “X-Men” film. “The Golden Gate Bridge sequence is Magneto at his most intense,” says John Bruno, an Oscar-winner and frequent James Cameron collaborator (“Titanic,” “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”). “It’s the biggest visual effects scene in the series.” The visual effects and art direction groups built a full-size section of the bridge and a section of Alcatraz. Bruno and his team digitally extended the latter, blending the practical sets with the computerized images. In addition, they built detailed miniatures that were used for reference.
To help realize the film’s massive scale and requirements for hundreds of state-of-the-art visual effects, the production brought aboard several top visual effects companies, including WETA Digital, which worked on creating key elements for the Alcatraz compound and on Dark Phoenix’s powers. Framestore CSC, a London-based house worked on the Golden Gate Bridge scenes. Other visual effects houses working on the picture were Moving Picture Company; Hydraulics; and Klesier-Walczak, which helped bring Mystique to life.
For a flashback scene that opens the film, John Bruno utilized proprietary “rejuvenation” software called LOLA. “It’s been attempted before in short doses on other films, but we used it for the first four minutes of the movie. What we’ve done is take Professor X and Magneto back 20 years in time and make them younger.” The software uses 3-D patches which are put over the actors’ existing facial features. Visual effects heightened the enormity of the practical sets. On a ten-acre tract of land that previously housed a Vancouver woodworking factory, the production created enormous outdoor sets, covering a total of 270,000 square feet. At one end of the site, the 250 ft. long Golden Gate Bridge set was flanked by a 50 ft. high green screen at each end and spanned by a 250 ft. green screen 40 ft. high. Another mega-set on that site: Alcatraz Island.
John Bruno will appear at the Digital Media Festival in Melbourne on June 7. Full program www.dmw.com.au