G.I. Joe Gets VFX Retaliation
Meanwhile, ILM (supervised by Bill George) got to tackle a stunning Himalayan fight sequence involving a group of ninjas hanging from ropes on the side of a sheer rock face. Interestingly, the sequence is based on the '84 G.I. Joe comic, Silent Interlude.
"We shot in an old warehouse where they constructed NASA rockets outside of New Orleans," George explains. "They created a green screen wall at a very steep angle with a lot of rigging above to swing the stunt people through for the fighting. But they couldn't move as fast as they wanted, so that's where we came in.
"We tried to capture the action with the stunt people going at it on ropes. So we'd take a performance that was 90% there and augmented it by, for instance, replacing an arm and having it swing in more aggressively. Getting onto the zip line was done CG. For us, it was the perfect scenario for doing digital doubles because they were completely covered up and the only face you saw was through their eye holes. It was a fairly easy match without cloth sim or hair sim to take it up to another level of difficulty."
Finally, Method in Vancouver and New York (supervised by Ollie Rankin) handled, among other things, an all-out assault on the G. I. Joe camp by a squadron of CG Apache attack helicopters, raining down machine gun tracer fire and missiles, blowing up every vehicle and killing almost everyone.
Later, a swarm of explosive CG robotic fireflies takes off and flies down the road toward a secret prison, activating their individual fluid-filled canister lights along the way and ultimately exploding once they are within range of the prison guards. Then, inside the prison, an escaped prisoner flees through a corridor as the malfunctioning cooling system explodes all around him, tearing up huge chunks of concrete and twisting metal. Software used included Maya, Mental Ray, Houdini, Mantra, Nuke, Photoshop and Avid.
"A lot of people get into VFX specifically for the opportunity to blow stuff up and G. I. Joe: Retaliation offered us at Method Studios many such opportunities, with Apache gunships on the attack, exploding robotic fireflies, Cobra ball grenades and a catastrophic cooling system meltdown," concludes Rankin.
Bill Desowitz is former senior editor of AWN and VFXWorld, the owner of Immersed in Movies (www.billdesowitz.com), a columnist for Thompson on Hollywood at Indiewire and author of James Bond Unmasked (www.jamesbondunmasked.com), which chronicles the 50-year evolution of 007 on screen, featuring interviews with all six actors.