Cinesite completed more than 800 shots for StudioCanal and Lionsgate’s The Commuter.
The film follows Michael (Liam Neeson), an ordinary businessman on his daily commute home — a commute that becomes anything but routine as he is unwittingly caught up in a criminal conspiracy that has life and death consequences.
Cinesite’s team, led by VFX supervisor Stephane Paris, worked closely with director Jaume Collet-Serra and production VFX supervisor Steve Begg from the start of principal photography in August 2016 through to delivery in August 2017. As the lead VFX studio, Cinesite delivered more than 800 shots which included digital doubles, multiple continuous action shots, extensive environment builds and a full CG train crash sequence. The scope and volume of work required a global team effort with artists in Montreal and London working across various disciplines.
The crash required the construction of a 2km long environment asset complete with station, forest, tracks and industrial detritus. FX were key, with flying gravel, breaking and deforming tracks, exploding sleepers, fog, dust, smoke and fire in addition to the damaged train carriages. Other shots required a realistic Neeson digi-double to perform death-defying stunts.
The team also created shots near the film’s opening which demonstrate the repetition of Michael’s daily commute. In a poignant shot at Grand Central Station multiple iterations of Michael’s journey are shown simultaneously, with the crowds gradually accelerating around him while his pace remains measured. His outfit changes and the mood lighting changes to show the passing of the seasons around him.
The shot was achieved with a combination of multiple motion control passes, creation of the iconic station environment using photogrammetry and ultimately by creating the crowd of fellow commuters in CG for the latter part of the shot (a seamless transition was required between the live action passes and the CG people).
The Commuter VFX Breakdown
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