Case Studies in Invisible Effects – Lone Survivor

IAN FAILES | FXGUIDE.COM | MARCH 27, 2014 | Original Article

How do you tell the true story of Navy SEALs fighting in Afghanistan? What’s involved in marrying the charm of miniatures and stop-motion into final shots? How do you make two Jake Gyllenhaal’s? And how can practical and digital effects carve out a woman’s jaw? The answers are in this article on the seamless visual effects by Image Engine, Look Effects, Rodeo FX and Screen Scene in Lone Survivor, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Enemy and Ripper Street.

Lone Survivor

Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor follows a group of Navy SEALs on an ill-fated mission in Afghanistan. Shot mostly in New Mexico, the film relied on visual effects to expand some mountainous environments, incorporate gunfire and show U.S. bases and flying vehicles – all within what is a mostly handheld and sometimes ‘run and gun’ shot film.

“A lot of the film is on location,” says Image Engine’s Jesper Kjolsrud, one of the visual effects supervisors on the show. “It’s kind of crude in a way – it’s not meant to be pretty. You know, shoot into the sun, you get a lot of contrast, a lot of flares, handheld. Those elements really just adds to making you feel part of being there.”

“And I have to say the DP was an absolute mountain goat,” adds Kjolsrud, “he would spot something, and carry a camera up the hill, the rest of the crew would run after him and they would find a shot from somewhere. I sit in front of a computer – it was hard to keep up with…”

Image Engine delivered several CG Apache and Chinook helicopters and a C-130 Hercules military transport vehicle for the film. While that took advantage of previous work the studio had undertaken for say Zero Dark Thirty, the Image Engine crew still looked for ways to match the film’s goal of trying to capture as much in camera as possible.

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