Montreal-based MELS recently produced 750 visual effects for the biopic Race. Producers Louis-Philippe Rochon of Solo Films and Dominique Séguin of Trinica Entertainment brought MELS onto the project at the storyboarding stage. MELS planned and supervised the filming of visual effects on sets in Quebec and Germany. MELS oversaw all the visual effects and produced most of them – nearly 500 shots – in house. The remaining shots were outsourced to contributors in Montreal and Vancouver.
In addition to cars, planes and zeppelins, MELS was responsible for creating 1930s-era 3D environments mimicking New York City, Cleveland, Ann Arbor, the University of Ohio campus and numerous stadiums, including the Olympiastadion in Berlin. All the track scenes were shot around Montreal and then inserted into digital stadiums packed with crowds of up to 80,000 spectators, also created by MELS visual effects artists. For some scenes, an actor’s head had to be attached to an athlete’s body to produce Olympic performances. For the scenes shot in Berlin, Nazi banners and other paraphernalia created by the artists were added after the fact because Nazi symbols are banned in Germany.
Race is a Canadian-German co-production that tells the story of one of the greatest athletes of modern times, the American sprinter Jesse Owens, who made history and delivered a slap in the face to the Nazi regime by winning four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Race stars Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Irons and William Hurt.
“Race was a terrific vehicle which gave our artists and technicians a chance to apply their ingenuity to produce spectacular and believable images,” said François Garcia, VP creative services of MELS. “By seamlessly weaving together live action and visual effects, we were able to meet the project’s creative and technical challenges to the satisfaction of director Stephen Hopkins and the producers.”