Getting Bullish on Knight and Day
"We had CG trains and cars and set extensions and greenscreen work and got to blow up a plane, but the biggest challenge were the CG bulls," suggests Greg Steele, the visual effects supervisor of Rhythm & Hues. "We went to Spain, blocked off a street and shot some footage with some running bulls in it and we had to augment that and increase the number of bulls. And actually some shots didn't have bulls, so we had to add them. There were usually nine to 15 bulls in each shot.
"It was actually nice not to do a talking animal for once. And that was Jim's really big thing: he wanted it to look realistic: the bio mechanics of how it moves and the weight of it."
The bulls were dangerous and uncontrollable to motion capture, but R&H shot as much reference footage as it needed to send back to the animators in LA. "We went out to the ranch where they were keeping all the bulls for this running stuff because we did have a couple of shots where we actually did put the bulls in there and Tom [Cruise] rode with them," Steele continues. "It was crazy and I can't believe that he did it.
Steele says it was a fairly quick job: R&H had five months but didn't get most of the footage until mid-way through, which gave the studio about two months to build all of its assets.
"We started dropping these vignettes in and mixing things up," Steele adds. "Once the shot was locked in the way we wanted, we would go in and add nuance. For instance, two of the bulls are bumping into each other and we added some head rotations. We didn't want it to look too mechanical. The reference was great for all the texture detail and fur grooming that we needed to do."