Creating a Virtual Washington for White House Down
Talk about a ticking clock scenario: With only 12 months to deliver 1,000 VFX shots for Roland Emmerich's White House Down and with limited access to the White House grounds and the Lincoln Monument thanks to a no-fly zone, Uncharted Territory focused on management and quality control rather than creating in-house VFX.
"We're very fortunate that we already came up with this process many years ago and we are able to do it in different ways depending on the project," explains Uncharted's Volker Engel. "On 2012, we did a third of the movie in-house because it made sense and we had the preparation time. On Anonymous, it made sense because it was a contained number of shots (300) and it was all London in the 16th century. But on this movie we didn't have much preparation and setup time and to hire artists just from the infrastructure."
However, the production was able to take lots of stills and some aerial photographs, which were then used by Method and Hybride to stitch together the White House and surrounding DC environment in its entirety in the most authentic-looking CG ever.
"The main part of the asset building was done by Method in Vancouver," adds Uncharted's Marc Weigert. "They built the White House, the grounds, the East Wing, the West Wing, the Capitol, the Black Hawks. Then we had Hybride in Montreal, which shared the Black Hawk scene with Method. Hybride did the beginning with the helicopter flying over the river, then through the buildings in the streets; they built entire streets of Washington, thousands of people, cars. Method took over when we get to the White House and the first helicopter gets shot down. Method's models were then shipped to the other vendors. We had Prime Focus, Image Engine [which contributed to the aerial view of the White House burning and people running away and cars stuck in traffic] and Scanline [which did the limo splashes into the pool and the whole Air Force One destruction sequence with plenty of fire]. LUXX from Stuttgart built everything in the opening for this one-off fly over except for the White House. Crazy Horse did the first approach of Channing Tatum and his daughter, which is the first time you see the White House up close."