Method Studios Brings Down The HouseJul 2, 2013
Method was excited to be commissioned as one of the lead VFX vendors on Columbia Pictures’ political action flick White House Down, directed by Roland
Emmerich. Volker Engel and Marc Weigert were the production’s visual effects
Method’s crew was led by Ollie Rankin, visual effects supervisor, and Christopher Anderson, visual effects producer for the team in Vancouver and overall they completed 185 shots comprising four sequences.
“We visited Volker and Marc in their war room in Culver City,” recalls Rankin. “The walls were lined with frames from the most challenging shots in the film. The majority of them were marked as belonging to Method and it’s fair to say that recreating the White House, US Capitol building and three Black Hawk helicopters challenged our VFX team in the best possible way. Around a fifth of our shots were either fully CG or contained only a small component of practical photography.”
“Volker and I were extremely pleased with Method’s team and their work,” says Weigert. “Their enthusiasm and sense of humor made the experience so much easier than it often is. One of their sequences is the biggest highlight in the film. It’s simply awesome. We’re all, Roland included, very proud of the outcome.”
Method’s sequences included the explosions inside and outside of the US Capitol, the collapse of the Capitol’s iconic dome, the crashes of three Black Hawk helicopters around and into the White House and its surrounding lawns and fountain, and the interior shots of a helicopter’s tail section crashing through several floors of the White House. With all the recently accomplished CG simulated destruction and pyro work on recent projects, Method was a natural fit for these shots.
The single most challenging shot was the first Black Hawk crash. It features a burning, smoking Black Hawk spiraling over the roof of the White House, slamming into the ground, then crashing into a tree directly in front of camera, breaking apart in a big explosion, before continuing to carve up the ground as it comes to rest. The final comp for this shot used around 150 rendered elements, each with multiple layers.
Since the majority of the film's action takes place in and around the White House grounds, Method shared the CG assets they built with the other eleven vendors located around the world and with very different CG pipelines. A small number of shots required sharing of rendered layers between vendors.
Method Studios President Christian Kubsch says, “Roland Emmerich’s action movies contain epic visual effects. Method was one of the lead facilities among the vendors because we’ve upped our game consistently. Ollie, Chris and our crew did exemplary work on this one. It was a tough schedule and they didn’t miss a beat.”