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Metallica: Through the Never

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Metallica Through the Never brings one of the most popular rock bands in history to the biggest screen - IMAX. In this music-driven, 3-D motion picture, award-winning filmmaker, Nimród Antal, immerses audiences in a cinematic experience of spectacular live performance footage with some of the band’s most iconic songs, created exclusively for the film.

Method Studios was chosen as the primary VFX vendor and approached very early on in the process to collaborate on the film. The breadth of visual effects work covered a wide range of disciplines, with character animation, large-scale destruction including rigid body simulations and pyrotechnic effects, virtual environments and stereoscopic enhancements at the forefront of the project. Method’s Vancouver crew was led by VFX Supervisor Bruce Woloshyn and visual effects producer Jinnie Pak.

One of the most difficult shots to plan and photograph for the movie was most certainly the opening shot of the film. It is a helicopter POV that starts out high above the city, descending as it rounds the arena at which Metallica is to play. The process meant building a 3D model of Downtown Vancouver - complete with the correct elevations - so the shot could be meticulously planned all the way through.

Little Man is a creepy looking 14 inch puppet owned by the hero of the film – a Metallica roadie named Trip. Bringing Little Man to life brought its own unique set of challenges for the Method team. To begin with, as he would have to intercut with an actual puppet prop, an extremely detailed reference was the key to creating an exact CG replica of the character. A LiDAR scan of the practical puppet along with high resolution photographs were used by the modeling team and the puppet was carefully rigged to move as the director envisaged. In order to create a ‘poppy’ or ‘stop animation’ feel, the figure was animated with stepped tangents with the majority of the animation keyframed on 2's for standard motion and on 1's for overly slow or fast movements.

As Trip’s mission takes him on an unexpected journey, it was apparent that both the choreography and execution of the city destruction, as well as the Death Rider character, was an essential factor in communicating the director's vision for the climax of the film. One of the unique opportunities provided to the Method team for the destruction scenes on the project, was the proximity of the shooting locations to Method’s Vancouver facility. Artists were able to extensively experience and research the physical space and have the opportunity to take detailed set surveys that were specific to their individual destruction effects.

Creating and compositing the Death Rider and horse required the extensive use of matchmove stereo cameras, as the viewer chases along beside them. In addition to the myriad of animation and simulation passes for the characters and collapsing buildings, the geometry of the park and surrounding buildings allowed for accurate placement of projections by the compositing team.

“The collaborative nature of the project was fantastic from day one" says Bruce. "Nimród was very open to our creative input. It didn't have to be his idea, just the best idea, and that certainly defined a great working relationship."

Nimród responds, “Bruce and the team at Method really came through. From massive destruction scenes to helping us bring the Little Man to life, they always created stunning work and really cared for the project.”


Keywords

  • Characters
  • Compositing
  • Stereo
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