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SALT

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Method's work on this film was nominated for a VES Award for Supporting Visual Effects in a Motion Feature. It's testament to the skills of the Vancouver team that the majority of viewers wouldn't realize the grand scope of the VFX work.

RECREATING THE CAPITOL


In a pivotal sequence, Salt (Angeline Jolie), is captured while trying to warn the President about a plot against him; she is taken across the lawn and whisked away in a helicopter. The filmmakers required shots of the White House and the Washington, DC cityscape behind it. Because the production wasn't allowed to stage the scene at the real location, Method digitally recreated the White House and surrounding areas.

To create a CG version of the White House, along with the surrounding city, Method artists started out by taking hundreds of still photographs of the real building and scenery from as many angles as possible. The team had to obtain special permission from the Secret Service to set up cameras on tripods outside the gates, which is usually prohibited. The team also took a series of stills from the observatory of the Washington Monument to capture specific information about the White House roof. Visual Effects Supervisor Mark Breakspear also utilized a rare book he found that was packed with information about the White House and its grounds.

In order to create the virtual cityscape, the VFX team started with a rough collection of data from the US government that references all the buildings in the city in a 3D space. They then used that data to recreate the skyline, essentially in two big steps. All the buildings that were within five miles of the White House, where the viewer would expect to notice parallax when the camera moves, were recreated with real 3D geometry. The rest of the DC cityscape, extending for another 20 miles, could exist in 2D form as a large panoramic image.

Method finalized out the shots with CG police cars, fire trucks and people and live action footage of the helecopter. The scenes were then composited in Nuke and finally rendered out in Mental Ray.

The 'making of' sequence clearly shows the amount of careful crafting that went into the scene and reveals how much of the shot was computer generated.


Keywords

  • Award Winner
  • Environments
  • Hard surface
  • Compositing
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