Getting into a Zombieland Mood
After working on Rome environments for Angels & Demons CIS Vancouver did nearly 110 shots for the wild and gory Zombieland (directed by Ruben Fleischer), including a "seat belt" lesson and the opening 90-second shot in semi-deserted Washington, D.C., which is all CG. Mark Breakspear, CIS' visual effects supervisor, tells all.
Bill Desowitz: So, what was it like working on a zombie movie?
Mark Breakspear: Well, it was a lot of fun. Like any small budget show, they still have the same big ideas as big budget shows. We started talking to Paul Linden, the overall visual effects supervisor, about the kind of work that they had and at the time it was some driving composites, but then the movie developed, as we knew it would, and suddenly there were a bunch of CG shots that they wanted: some environments and this great shot.
BD: And what was that?
MB: The basic premise of the movie on one level is that the main character has all these rules for surviving in a world of zombies. And they show us these rules with a mixture of cool effects plus graphics; go into the environment, sort of like Fringe. So we have some shots like that. Now one of those shots is called "seat belts," and the rule for surviving in Zombieland -- or for surviving life in general -- is to wear your seat belts because you never know what you might hit and you don't want to die because you get into a traffic accident and then the zombies come along and eat you.
So they illustrate this by showing a shot of a woman driving away from some zombies in panic -- actually, her zombie children. And she floors the gas and flies down the street and out of nowhere comes a truck ambling down the street. She hits it on the side, flies through the front window in slo-mo, screaming all the way, with all the contents of the car traveling with her, which happen to be in this case, beanie babies. And she comes down, in slo-mo, her head hits the pavement and blood splays out of her head and all of the beanie babies fly past the camera. And it's one of those shots that you think is gonna cut at any moment so you don't see the gross part, and it doesn't: it lets you experience the whole thing, the whole way, which was really, really cool. Then you cut to an above shot and you see her sliding along the ground, leaving a big trail of gore and blood.