Tue 31st Jul 2012, by Paul Hellard | Production
“I was totally impressed with the Method team,” states Michael Owens. “Randy and Jinnie were very solution driven but never without great creative and design suggestions and ideas. The film’s director, Timur Bekmambetov, and the filmmakers were extremely pleased with their work. Over several years and quite a few projects, I’ve enjoyed working with Method Vancouver. It’s handy to have the confidence that they’ll always find a way to meet challenges, deadlines and budgets with work that very much pleases the filmmakers’ expectations.”
Randy Goux comments, “Timur wanted to see various visual styles from us which resulted in a very intense look/development phase at the start of this project. Our main sequence involved the collapse of a burning bridge which also featured Abe Lincoln and Will Johnson involved in hand-to-hand combat with a group of vampires. To make it more complicated, all of this action is happening on top of a moving train at night.
The actors were shot on two static box car tops against green screen - the rest of the surrounding environment and effects were all CG with half of the shots needing to be rendered in stereo while the other half were converted by Stereo D. The director’s filmmaking style included the use of extreme slow motion so Method had to develop a flexible system for creating complex volumetric smoke effects. Speed ramps in the action were in constant flux editorially, so at the very least they had to create all of the effects at 250fps in order to be able to keep up with editorial changes and the fine attention to detail needed for such slow moving effects.
The fact that this action occurs at night presented specific challenges to the 3D artists and compositors and believable lighting was of key importance. The CG tree branches and leaves needed to cast moonlit shadows onto the actors and train and Method also added shadows of the actors into the CG smoke. Not only does the smoke give the sequence a sense of speed, it also adds a great deal of suspense as the vampires appear in and out of the darkness.
“This film was a big technical challenge in terms of the pyro and rigid body destruction effects required and we developed many new tools to cope with this task," Sean Lewkiw, Method’s DFX supervisor, adds. "One additional aspect of the film that was challenging was producing many of the shots in full stereo which is particularly daunting for semi-transparent elements like fire and smoke. Doing traditional 2D tricks would destroy the stereoscopic effect so we took our time and produced many layers with incredible detail which were expertly composited under the watchful eye of our compositing supervisor Abel Milanes.”