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Hercules

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Brett Ratner’s ‘Hercules’ is a revisionist take on the classic Greek myth surrounding Zeus’ demigod son. The action packed feature stars the ever muscular Dwayne Johnson and a host of visual effects completed for the climax of the film by Method Studios. In these scenes, Hercules leads an epic battle between hundreds of mercenaries and soldiers culminating in the destruction of the temple.

Among the task list for the Method’s artists, supervised by Doug Bloom and Nordin Rahhali, were set extensions and full CG environments, digi-doubles, face replacements, crowd duplication, CG weapons (arrows and spears) and FX simulations including burning oil, fire and building destruction.

The most complex scenes involved CG fire pouring down the stairs after the soldiers tip over cauldrons of burning oil.  A key challenge for the FX crew was first getting the dynamics of the underlying fluid (oil) right before setting that oil on fire. Once they had approved animations for the oil, there was a great amount of effort put in to make sure the CG fire matched the speed and feel of the practical fire shot on set. It was also important that the CG fire properly illuminated the surrounding photography and integrated with the practical soldiers. Much of the work on the fire integration was crafted by Method’s comp team who had a collection of interactive lighting passes and control mattes provided by the FX and lighting artists.

The destruction of the temple, surrounding environment and huge statue of Hera required a significant amount of work upgrading the assets used for set extensions, originally provided by other vendors. This allowed Method’s artists to fracture and add dynamics to the set pieces and CG extensions while maintaining all the approved look-dev from the wider establishing shots and original photography.

Some of the most challenging work was the roto and comp work required to replace all the skies in the sequence. Most of Method’s shots were filmed at night so the sky was black and many shots did not have green screens to aid the pulling of keys. There was a huge amount of work put into replacing the skies and making sure that all the set extensions, soldiers and effects work looked brighter, as if at sunset, while still feeling integrated with the original nighttime photography.


Keywords

  • Environments
  • Crowd simulation
  • FX
  • Compositing
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