Client: BMW Director: Sam Hargrave Production Company: Reset Content
In the intense short thriller "The Calm," a spy (Pom Klementieff of the Guardians of the Galaxy series) must fight her way out of an attempted carjacking, commandeer a BMW i7 M70 xDrive and maneuver through winding mountain roads while evading motorcycle-riding assassins. The action-packed seven-minute BMW-sponsored movie, which appeared at the 76th Cannes Film Festival, co-stars Uma Thurman (the Kill Bill series) and benefits from the heart-pounding direction of Sam Hargrave (Extraction, Prophet) and the strong influence of executive producer Joseph Kosinski, director of Top Gun: Maverick. The film also represents the long-awaited return of BMW’s extremely successful short film series The Driver, which starred Clive Owen.
The 110 visual effects shots -- comprised of some big CG effects, cleanup and compositing work -- were overseen by Method Studios’ Creative Director Jason Frank, who collaborated with the filmmakers and high-end production company RESET CONTENT to oversee the work, from conceptualization through to delivery. Method producer Aiste Akelaityte oversaw the large operation, coordinating and scheduling all facets of 110-shot project among artists on both coasts and maintaining clear lines of communication among all involved as the VFX work progressed.
The live action portion of “The Calm” was shot by highly respected Jeff Cronenweth, ASC (Tales from the Loop, Gone Girl) on location in Croatia and Cannes. Method also hired freelance shot supervisors, who oversaw second unit and plate photography on the locations.
Method’s artists, collaborating between the company’s New York and Los Angeles locations, created a number of elements in which the intrepid heroine, who is at the wheel of the all-electric BMW, follows murderous motorcyclists into a tunnel and the sudden follow-up where pieces of a bad guy’s bike flying back out of the tunnel’s entrance.
“The BMW goes into the tunnel chasing the motorcycle,” says Frank of the sequence. “Then we see another shot where the camera is shooting the BMW coming out of the tunnel and the motorcycle sliding across the ground, missing its front tire and wheel, along with various pieces of debris., rolling across the asphalt as the camera whips by and picks up the BMW with the motorcyclist now on the car’s roof.”
Method VFX Supervisor Ivan Guerrero and his team created the wheel itself and the debris. “The clients were very happy with it,” Frank reports, “and we just kept adding more little bits of debris falling off the motorcycle and we added a reflective surface to the road so that it would look damp and then put reflected objects, like a headlight, into those areas.”
Another CG portion involves the effect of a powerful EMP (electromagnetic pulse) from a bad guy’s weapon. Frank and VFX artist Scott Hubbard worked out a look “like camera lens with a blue ring of energy around it,” Frank explains. “Then we made the tip of the EMP gun a similar blue to make it stand out and tie the look together.”
Method Studios also took plates of the outside of Cannes’ Hotel Martinez, where the story culminates. “We could only shoot there during the day,” Frank recalls, noting that the scene is set at night, so his team attacked the problem through 2D and compositing work to achieve the desired nighttime look. Method also handled digital cleanup for the entire project, both for the unusually framed 32:9 aspect ratio, in which it is to be presented, as well as for the full unmasked frame.
Stefan Sonnenfeld, senior colorist and CEO of Company 3 and Method Studios, handled color grading on the rich, dynamic short film.
For more information and to view the full film, click here.
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