Catching Bullets Full of Red
Better still is the sequence when Willis is side-swiped in the car by an SUV driven by Karl Urban. "In a flash, we cut to a slow motion shot of Bruce, not even blinking, stepping out of the car as it spins and slides," Goux recounts. "He draws his gun and starts shooting at the SUV. That's Bruce's hero moment looking badass. It was also one of our trickier shots because you can't shoot that, so Jim broke the elements down to a clean plate, a police car spinning on a turntable, and Bruce on a greenscreen stepping up off a stool and waling forward shooting his gun. And we used a plate of a spinning car and took that and did a simple CG track of the spinning car, projected that plate onto the CG and put it all inside Nuke, where we could manipulate the position of the car, how the wheels were touching the ground. We spent about two months working on that shot."
Then there's the final rocket-propelled grenade shot, which we see explode full frame, in slo-mo. It's full of cloth dynamics for bending metal, fluid fire effects and photo-sonic high speed pyro elements.
"Malkovich squares off Sergio Leone-style," Goux continues. "They're in a long alley of cargo containers. And this one woman is holding an RPG and he's on the other end with his six-shooter. It's very comic-book framing and they both shoot at each other, a bullet vs. an RPG. And the bullet and RPG meet in the middle. What you see is that very point of impact in hyper-slow-motion. And the RPG starts to explode and tear apart from two-feet away, which is something you never usually see. We didn't have reference and, unless you want to destroy a camera, you can't really look at that. So we did lots of studying of bullets shooting metal on metal and what we found is that there are lots of molten, mercury effects that happen. It's really neat to see what happens when an RPG is torn apart from the inside from all of its combustion. We used a lot of Maya cloth and fluid dynamics and rendered out about 15 passes in Nuke. It's our favorite shot!"
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.