Rodeo FX Creates Magical Effects for Now You See Me
Rodeo’s CG Supervisor Sébastien Francoeur said, “This show was definitely a fun and stimulating project for our CG team. Each sequence had a different challenge. The demands for this film varied from creating realistic, light, flexible bubbles, to making crazy car chases in New York City. I think the fact that we had to manage so many different kinds of shots and not concentrate all of our work on just a few big ones made this film even more exciting for us. The ‘Five Points’ motion design, the flying bills of Euro money, the magical bubbles—all of these shots were a perfect opportunity for us to showcase our range of skills. For me, personally, the biggest challenge was to create realistic crowd shots through motion capture and scanning. This sequence even allowed us to establish a new pipeline step that will be useful to us in the future.”
Rodeo FX produced a major sequence inside the Las Vegas MGM Grand for which Rodeo filled the entire arena with a mix of 2D crowd elements and CG crowd, using highly innovative techniques which included using "off the shelf" solutions such as Kinect and PS3 cameras for Motion Capture and 3D scanning.
Rodeo used particle simulation to add millions of Euros falling onto the audience for the MGM sequence, and created and animated a CG “Crusher” (compactor-like prop) that teleports a lead character into a Paris bank vault.
The first shot in the MGM sequence was more than a minute long. Rodeo created this shot by stitching and morphing three different cable cam plates together to form a 720-degree spinning shot of the stadium. Rodeo filled the arena with a 2D and 3D cheering crowd, enhancing the shot (as well as many other shots) with lens flares and the addition of giant video screens.
Rodeo FX created photo-real CG cars and a helicopter in an action packed car chase sequence set in Manhattan.
For a sequence set in the Savoy Theatre in New Orleans, Rodeo designed and animated enormous CG bubbles, developing new techniques during the process. The company filled the theater with a CG crowd; tracked and composited a giant check and designed the number transformation on it, and animated CG playing cards that were thrown into the audience by the cast.
Rodeo designed and created a prominent holograph animation, in which blue-prints to magic tricks are shown to the four lead cast members. For this sequence, Rodeo integrated fluid simulations to create the water animation that leads to the holographs.
Other Rodeo FX contributions included the recreation of a night-time city with digital matte-paintings and a green-screen shot of the actors in an office featuring a Las Vegas backdrop. Rodeo also did a good deal of plate photography using the Red Epic camera—these included a night-time city shoot (generic and shot-specific actions,) lens flares, smoke and water elements.
Rodeo’s André Ü Montambeault supervised a sequence called “Five Points,” which presents the third and final magic show presented within the film by the Four Horsemen cast members. The show takes place in an abandoned building covered with graffiti, where the performers present their final illusion in front of a cheering crowd. The magicians present their illusions with a blend of animated projections on the walls, along with rock-and-roll show style lighting, and classic misdirection, as they mislead the police who are trying to apprehend them.
Said Montambeault, “For this sequence, we had to come up with a design that would serve both the show visually and the theater in which the magicians were performing. We created all of the animations that are projected, and integrated them to the plates. We also designed the lighting rig that we see on the rooftop of the Five Points building. The backgrounds were shot with an Alexa camera for all the aerial shots, and in 35mm anamorphic for the rest. A big challenge was to maintain continuity between all the shots and the different cameras. We ended up using all of our available software for this sequence, and even put in place a Motion Graphics department. We match-moved the live action camera, and then published all the CG scenes of the CG cameras and the layout of the building. The animations that were projected were created in Cinema 4D and XSI. We used the ICE module of XSI extensively to create complex procedural animations, and After-Effects and Nuke were used to pre-comp many layers. This entire sequence was composited on our Flame and Flare systems.”
Source: Rodeo FX