Method Studios’ facilities in Los Angeles, Vancouver and London recently collaborated on a total of 398 visual effects shots for Warner Bros.’ Cloud Atlas. Directed by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer and Andy Wachowski, the film is an exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future. Dan Glass, Method’s chief creative officer and Method’s London-based Stephane Ceretti were the overall visual effects supervisors for the production. As the main visual effects vendor for the film, together Glass and Ceretti oversaw 11 other vendors in addition to their own crews.
“We made the most of Method’s international network and shared shots across our three locations which were split up by key sequences,” explained Ceretti. “Method Studios in London contributed concept design work for the movie’s art department as well as finished matte paintings for several environments, including the ‘destroyed city’ scenes within the film. The Los Angeles and Vancouver locations created numerous environmental sequences, and their CG models and motion graphics assets were shared internally and also passed on to other vendors such as ILM and Scanline.”
Method’s Los Angeles team was responsible for creating the fully CG establishing shots of the futuristic city Neo Seoul along with dynamic fight and escape sequences. They also created various CG vehicles and the digital facial makeup re-touching work on Chang – played by Jim Sturgess who is made to look Asian for part of the film.
“The city environment establishing scenes were key shots for our artists in terms of scope and artistic involvement,” Matt Dessero, Method’s VFX supervisor in L.A. explained. “We were given some concept art at the beginning of the project but were able to contribute to the creative direction in terms of designing the skiffs, gunships, ray gun blasts, water-like energy field of the transway and the architecture itself, which is a believable development based on modern cities in the world today.”
Geoffrey Hancock and Olivier Dumont supervised the VFX work that passed through Vancouver which included the creation of over 100 3D buildings referencing Asian architectural styles for the Neo Seoul vistas. These elements were shared among the Method Studios network and appear in a number of scenes including the telescoping plank sequence and the iconic shot of Somni as she crouches in front of the gunship with the sunset in the background.
Adding to Method’s overall involvement in the film, Method Design created the animated main title typography along with a number of motion graphics elements used throughout the film, including the heads-up displays for the vehicles and weaponry, plus the touch-controlled Orison displays.
“This was a hugely intricate film and our Method crews created beautiful work while collaborating seamlessly together over three countries,” said Glass. “The project was unique from the outset and while drawn to it creatively, the complexity of fitting the pieces of the story together went well beyond the narrative structure. It proved to be a worthy challenge for all involved and we couldn’t have pulled it off without the great talent of our own Method team and that of all our vendors across the globe.”