Resident Evil Has 3-D Afterlife
One of the most complicated sequences, in fact, was the opening at the famous Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, where the infection spreads. "This included a shot that was over a minute long where we pull back from Shibuya all the way to a cosmic view of the Earth," Berardi continues. "Then, the Resident Evil: Afterlife title appears in glorious 3-D. Then, without cutting, we drop back down to Earth and purposely designed the move to induce some vertigo in the audience. It is very effective. The shot ends on a hapless zombie at street level who is about to meet her doom.
"I took a plate unit to Tokyo and flew over Shibuya crossing and photo surveyed the area from varying elevations. We also sent a ground survey team to take detailed measurements and high-resolution photos of Shibuya and the surrounding 3 blocks. We took all this data back to Mr. X and began the long process of creating a full CG photoreal Shibuya crossing as well as the surrounding three blocks. The process took about eight months with a team of about eight modelers and texture artists."
Another challenge was the destruction of Tokyo, which took its inspiration from Akira. "Paul Anderson really wanted to see the buildings crumble and collapse in 3-D. The concept was that Wesker triggers a plasma blast, which becomes more powerful as it consumes more and more matter, so the spherical plasma event becomes more violent as it grows. The origin of the blast is right in the center of Shibuya. We used our hero Shibuya CG asset and created complex building crumbling simulations in Houdini. These simulations were incredibly complex due to the complexity of the geometry and textures we created, since everything had to hold up for close-ups."
Mr. X did all of the shots that required many months of asset building and design. They set up a production pipeline as the lead shop so their assets could easily be shared with other vendors:
Rodeo did 82 shots (30 were shared with Mr. X), including wide establishers of LA, prison rooftop composites and various comps; Rocket Science did 72 shots (19 of which were shared with Mr. X), including the Axman shower room fight with Alice and Clair, Wesker phase shifting and red eyes; and Anibrain did 100 shots (40 of which were shared with Mr. X), including blood and gore enhancements, psychic blast, white room and roto.
Getting back to 3-D, though, Berardi thinks the greatest moments "come at the end of the film when Alice faces off with the famous undead zombie dogs. There are shots in the sequence where the dogs lunge right out into the audience; it's good fun."
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.