Image Engine fuels explosive action for Law Abiding Citizen
Image Engine completed over 70 shots for the revenge thriller Law Abiding Citizen, starring Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx.
The Image Engine team, led by Visual Effects Supervisor Simon Hughes, worked with production Visual Effects Supervisor Raymond Gieringer and director Gary Gray to develop a range of visual effects to complement the explosive action.
The scope of challenges involved the film’s key sequences and ranged from CG augmentation to 2D artistry.
For the stunning prison parking-lot blast sequence, the director’s brief was that the foreground characters should appear to be more exposed to the dangerous car bombs that rock the scene. Image Engine responded by making the explosions look closer to the actors than they actually were, by adding practical elements and flying debris, all composited within NUKE. This included CG augmentation of elements such as car doors, wheels and tires, and also used a range of practical elements from Image Engine’s elements library. To add to the sense of peril, additional characters were added inside the cars from live action plates.
“These were really tricky augmentation shots,” said Hughes, “that required loads of different approaches – CG animation, particles, rigid body dynamics and some custom NUKE tools written in-house. Basically, the kitchen sink got the job done!”
In the climactic prison explosion sequence the brief was to show that Clyde (Butler) was amongst the fire, with flames all around his body, but not actually catching alight. This created a real challenge, where fire elements had to be stylized, yet believable. To match the lighting angles compositors finessed parts of his body from several different takes. Butler’s head was also re-animated to make him appear to respond to the imminent danger that was surrounding him.
The exterior prison explosion sequence required an additional element shoot. Image Engine assisted Gieringer on-set in Los Angeles, where second unit detonated a scale model of the exterior prison wall, which was seamlessly composited within Nuke and supplemented with CG debris.
Additionally many of the sequences required monitor inserts, clean-up and augmentation such as adding blood to Butler’s lips and bruising to faces.
“Law Abiding Citizen was our second production working with Raymond,” says Visual Effects Executive Producer Shawn Walsh “and a great experience yet again! It was especially fulfilling to work on such a wide variety of invisible effects work shot on location in Philadelphia that showcased our strong film compositing pipeline.”