Getting Bullish on Knight and Day
Indeed, the lighting of the bulls proved challenging as well since the fur was so reflective. That meant that they couldn't rely on the usual specular hit. "It had to be a reflection that we could adjust with the HDRIs we had shot on location," Steele says. "Thankfully, our rendering guys and Josh Breyer, one of our CG supes for lighting and rendering, took it upon themselves to find a way to render the fur as a ray traced methodology, which made it look a lot more realistic and it dropped right in next the real stuff perfectly."
Meanwhile, other vfx work was turned in by Weta Digital, Soho VFX, Hydraulx and Wildfire VFX. Eric Durst served as overall visual effects supervisor.
Weta, for instance, created a snowy alpine environment to be composited outside train windows. The two scenes were both greenscreen shoots, one in the dining car, and the other in the kitchen carriage. The New Zealand studio completed 139 shots in five weeks.
And the approach worked. Weta had the camera department do a layout setup, in which the train's speed would be determined by a single axis node in Nuke (allowing Weta to adjust it at any time), and the cameras were tracked quickly in most cases just for their rotations. "One of our compositors, Jean-Luc Azzis, made a Nuke gizmo, which was used to place tree cards in groups parallel to the axis the train was travelling along," Tait continues. "The gizmo took a single directory full of tree images as its input, and randomly selected from them to place up to 30 trees per node along the tracks, with their position and spacing adjustable by the compositors. We found that by using many of these nodes, a compositor could quickly spread around 400 trees along the track, for any given shot. Although the trees individually were 2D images, spacing them out away from the train, and allowing sufficient spacing between them to allow the camera to see far back through them, gave a great sense of space and depth."
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.