L.A.-based VFX studio Level 256 Visual Effects recently produced 126 shots for Universal Pictures’ The Bourne Legacy, including a diverse array of 2D and 2.5D work.
The bulk of this work included an extensive series of rig and wire removals, especially for a scene involving a rooftop chase sequence in the Philippines in which actors ended up on the trussing of a massive billboard. For this sequence, the actors performed their own stunts, jumping from buildings and battling atop the billboard.
Level 256 had to remove dozens of rigs, harnesses and trusses that were used for the safety of the actors, as well as multiple follow cams and additional camera personnel and equipment that were strewn all across the set and skyline.
One key challenge was that the camera movement made paint techniques impossible for many of the shots. Some shots that were supposed to be “simple wire removals” ended up needing matte painted sky domes, 3D projection and multi-plane plate rebuilding.
“For this show, we enhanced our pipeline with a variety of in-house tools that allowed procedural solutions for similar shots,” explained Seth Kleinberg, head of production for Level 256. “This ensured a smooth delivery with quick turnarounds for the compressed schedule we were up against.”
Other VFX shots produced by Level 256 included TV monitor comps, computer screen replacements, video look treatments, a 2.5D passport replacement series, two blood removal shots that ended up becoming partial face replacements, and other general production clean-up work.
“As our delivery schedule tightened, I found myself turning to Level 256 with ever more tricky shots, as after the first 100 shots they’d won my confidence,” explained VFX supervisor, Hal Couzens. “They delivered creatively and very cost effectively every time, often on the first version, which can be a huge help to short-schedule shows. Their work on the character ‘Larx’s’ blood reduction was a very welcome surprise beyond what we expected was possible at the 11th hour.”
“We had worked with some of the crew on previous shows, so from the start I felt like we were all on the same page, both from a technical and creative standpoint,” said Level 256 owner Scott Davids. “Hal Couzens and his team were extremely organized and detail-oriented, and Hal was very accessible and straightforward. His notes were spot on, and when there was additional feedback, he was able to communicate exactly what the filmmakers wanted out of the shot to get to final.”