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Cinesite Completes Spectacular Drone Attack Sequence On Earth Stood Still

Cinesite completed a major sequence for the Twentieth Century Fox's THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, which was released Friday in the U.S. and U.K., complete with CG planes, tanks and spectacular explosions.

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, a reworking of the 1950's cult classic, is the story of an alien craft coming to Earth, bringing with it the enigmatic Klaatu (Keanu Reeves), and his giant robot Gort. Klaatu's mission is to warn the leaders of the world that if they do not stop war and destruction, the human race will be threatened and destroyed to protect the Earth. The production is directed by Scott Derrickson.

Cinesite's main effects involve a sequence in which the U.S. Army attacks the sinister robot Gort with two drone (Reaper) aircraft. They fly through the city of New York, firing missiles at Gort, which is standing in Central Park. Gort takes control of the Reapers, crashing them into the ground, where they collide spectacularly with military tanks and Humvees.

With Visual Effects Supervisor Jeff Okun in New Zealand supervising other effects, Jim Rygiel was brought on board to supervise the Reaper sequence location aerial shoot in New York.

The Reapers were constructed by Cinesite's team of modelers and textured using photographic reference supplied by Rygiel. A full aerodynamic flight surface rig was implemented, complete with 3D heat haze and wing tip con-trail effects passes.

The environments were created by respeeding helicopter plates filmed by Rygiel, to add dynamism and pace. The original skies were also replaced and regraded to create new lighting conditions. A series of 3D digital matte paintings were also created for a few shots where it proved impossible to shoot real elements in New York.

The final, and most spectacular effects in the sequence involve one of the Reapers crashing into a tank on the ground, resulting in a massive explosion. Aside from a greenscreen soldier element, the entire shot is digital, with Cinesite's CG Reaper, a photorealistic CG M1A1 tank, Humvee, Light Armoured vehicle and CG missiles and smoke trails.

As the Reaper impacts the CG M1A1 tank, a clever destruction simulation system was generated using Blast Code to break the CG tank to pieces in a physically correct way. The explosion was further augmented by 2D smoke, flashes, fire and debris passes, which clear to reveal a damaged M1A1, with a custom 'damage' texture map.

Cinesite recently completed work on Disney's BEDTIME STORIES and is currently working on several major productions, including Disney/Bruckheimer's PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME and Blacklight Films/Disney Nature's NAKED BEAUTY.

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