Image Engine Design, ILM, MPC, Method Studios, Whiskeytree, UPP, Umedia & Mill worked on Visual Effects for Skyscraper. It was approximate 2300 VFX shots in the movie. A team of approximately 150 people at ILM delivered 1300 shots for this movie.
Craig Hammack leading ILM team as Visual Effects Supervisor, Jose Burgos as Associate Visual Effects Supervisor, Jill brooks as Executive Producer for the Skyscraper.
MPC’s team lead by VFX Supervisor Kevin Hahn worked with director Rawson Marshall-Thurber to craft effects for 250 shots for Skyscraper. These included two key sequences, the observation deck battle and the dome intro. Key work included creating photo real full CG environments, fire and explosions FX and complex compositing.
In the Observation Deck sequence Will Sawyer battles against and a team of terrorists at night time, inside the dome. The battle takes place within a wall of mirrors intended to confuse the characters and the audience alike. The action starts on the outside deck where the characters have their first confrontation.
The sequence was shot in Vancouver at Catalyst Studios, entirely on green screen with black reflective flooring. Metal frames were used to indicate the position of panels, and light sources were used to simulate fire. It was challenging to film, with up to 5 cameras filming at the same time to capture the main action and multiple element plates for the panels – to create the perfect illusion of a room full of mirrors. The sound stage was only built as a part of the original scale and required a huge amount of planning to shoot the live action plates.
MPC’s environment team created a fully digital environment for the interior and exterior balcony extension of the observation deck. A huge amount of variation of panels from pristine to destroyed were designed and built. The environments were created in Maya and were based on architectural guidelines, based on references from a 10 day shoot in Hong Kong, which were used to create the CG environment backgrounds. Substance designer was used to create the majority of textures and were rendered using a combination of V-Ray and PR Man.
The biggest challenge in creating the illusion was working with multiple plates within a single shot. MPC’s team worked closely with the client side editorial department, to ensure continuity throughout the sequence. After ingesting the hero plates and render camera, MPC’s compositing team was responsible in laying out the panels with the element material, following direction from the editorial team as they pieced the scene together. The complexity of the sequence and the amount of plates created a huge challenge not only from a coordination and tracking point of view, but also in terms of the amount of prep work required for each shot.
The Dome Sequence takes place on the observation deck and was also shot entirely on green screen. MPC’s task was to create the directors vision of a geodesic dome, which could display photo realistic images of any kind.
The idea was to start from an empty canvas and slowly introduce different types of footage and backgrounds to the audience. This was also the first time the panels revealed and it’s functionality as an art instillation is displayed.
A highly flexible and customizable dome was built in Maya which was then rendered with custom shaders in V-Ray to maintain flexibility and quick turnarounds. The full potential of the dome is revealed at the end of this beat and a complex blend of CG renders and high level matte paintings were created to visualize this illusion for the audience and the hero character.
One of the most demanding challenges of the sequence was to create full scale fire and destruction of the entire dome. Complex fire simulations and CG smoke interactions were created by MPC’s FX team and combined with destructed assets and lighting renders.
MPC also created digital props of the weapons including grenades and swords and a digital parachute was brought to life by MPC’s tech-anim team.
Method Studios worked on approximate 500 shots for the movie including set extension, leg replacement of Actor, crane climb/jump sequence, helicopter crash sequence.
Image Engine worked on some shots including the bridge in the park fire and the hanging shots on the side of the building, as well as a few of the erupting fire shots at the beginning of the park fire sequence.
ILM worked on the major challenging shots for the movie including detailed destruction, fire & large establishing shots.
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