Pulling Off a New VFX Twist for White House Down

Uncharted Territory, which has become a model of efficiency and innovation during these precarious times for the VFX industry, came up with a new concept for handling Roland Emmerich’s White House Down: management and quality control rather than creating the bulk of the effects in-house.

That’s because Uncharted had only 12 months to deliver 1,000 VFX — the shortest schedule ever for partners Volker Engel and Marc Weigert, who also serve as co-producers and close collaborators with Emmerich.

“We’re very fortunate that we already came up with this process many years ago and not have a company that we have to feed with shots and have 100-150 artists,” Engel explains. “We are able to do it in different ways depending on the project. On 2012, we did a third of the movie’s VFX in-house because it made sense and we had the preparation time. On Anonymous, it made sense because it was a contained number of shots (300) and it was all London in the 16th century. But on this movie we didn’t have much preparation and setup time and we couldn’t hire artists just from our own infrastructure.”

Production management is Uncharted’s specialty anyway, so it just meant tighter control and oversight of the shots turned in by a host of VFX companies that included Method, Hybride, Image Engine, Scanline, Prime Focus, and Luxx. The biggest challenge, of course, was getting around White House limited access and the no-fly zone around the perimeter and Lincoln Monument.

This required a lot more analysis and creativity in delivering the most unique and spectacular White House environment ever made. They utilized a combination of stills and aerial photography wherever possible and then relied on the CG craft to build a photorealistic DC.

Method did most of the asset building, which was shared with other companies: the White House, the grounds, the East Wing, the West Wing, the Capitol, and the Black Hawks. Not only was the CG authentic-looking but there were also multiple interacting dynamic simulations. Trees, in fact, proved the most underestimated aspect.

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Movies, previs, Tech, Trailers, Uncategorized, Virtual Production

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