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Angels & Demons

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Since it was clearly not possible to shoot a fiery scene at the historic St. Peter's Basilica within the Vatican, a major sequence with Langdon (Tom Hanks) and a priest (Ewan McGregor) was filmed entirely on a green screen stage, with Method Studios in Vancouver recreating the ornate church using CGI.


The work began with digital photographs that would be used as reference material for the animators and compositors. Visual Effects Supervisor Mark Breakspear managed over time to take thousands of pictures of the famous basilica from hundreds of angles using a Canon DSLR camera which were then projected onto 3D models.

As the reference pictures revealed, there was much more detail inside this church than the team expected. Much of what Breakspear expected to be flat paintings turned out to be relief mosaics, and tight shots from the DSLR material revealed incredible detail in the marble and reflective materials. All this detail was recreated in Maya, rendered using Mental Ray--a favorite of Breaksper's for architectural models--and composited together in Nuke.


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