Aug 09

Total recall | dneg

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Excellent article @ fxguide about dnegs work on Total recall. Especially love the hovering practical car solution.

Practical cars

“The rigs consisted of a go-kart on the bottom,” says de Wet, “a four-wheeled go-kart that had two operators, one would be the guy who sat up the front, who was actually driving the go-kart. There was another driver who was operating a gimbal above their heads. On top of the gimbal was a full-sized hover car. So we had to remove the go-kart that was underneath to make it look like the car was hovering, and replace the entire background.”

The actors and stunt doubles in the hover car mock-ups could then “react to the velocities and inertia you get when you’re in a car traveling 40 miles an hour smashing into each other,” says de Wet. “You get all that stuff for free.”

One set of car plates was filmed underneath the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto, which provided appropriate lighting for passing-by UFB city structures. Another group of plates was captured on an expansive unused airbase at Borden. “We let rip with the cars, both 1st unit and 2nd unit,” says de Wet. “We shot the full sun-lit stuff out there. We drove the cars around at 40-50 miles an hour, allowing them to smash into each other. We wrote off a few cars, smashed a few cameras – all that kind of stuff.”

A huge effort was then required to matchmove the car plates, remove the rigs and to establish roads and a world for the hover car chase to exist in. Concepts for the UFB were established by Patrick Tatopoulos’ team, from which Dneg quickly began an asset build. “Len and Patrick gave us a great library from which to choose,” says Peter Chiang. “Once you take in the assets, there’s a whole development process that goes on. We just started building the assets and had them all run in parallel, including The Third Floor’s previs work. And we set the look that way.”

CG versions of the hover cars were created via reference photography of the practical versions (luckily the cars were all similar shapes and sizes). Distant traffic was achieved through a particle system developed in Houdini. But the most intense work was the incredible buildings – ‘platforms’ – and roads network required for the UFB that had to be mapped to the live action plates.

Read the whole thing