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DIVE’s Deft Touch Polishes Boaz Yakin’s 'Safe'

Writer/Director Boaz Yakin chose Mark Forker and the team at DIVE to produce and manage visual effects in the action film SAFE.

Press release from DIVE:

Philadelphia, PA­­—Writer/Director Boaz Yakin chose Mark Forker and the team at DIVE to produce and manage visual effects in the action film SAFE, starring Jason Statham, which premieres nationally on April 27, 2012.

DIVE, the visual effects and film finishing division of ShootersINC, whose credits include The Road, Let Me In, Fair Game, The Last Airbender, I am Number Four, and Chernobyl Diaries, worked with Yakin and Producer Lawrence Bender to stitch together key action scenes that were tricky to shoot and even more complicated to tie together.

Effects throughout the film included gunfight sequences with muzzle flashes and bullet hits, knife and stab wounds, a car chase and subsequent accident, and a thrilling pursuit involving a New York City subway train.

DIVE was a great fit for the intricate management and fine-tuning of the intense action sequences throughout the film. Shot in New York and Pennsylvania, Yakin demanded perfectly seamless visuals.

In a key scene of SAFE, Statham is pursued through and atop a subway train. Due to restrictions and security concerns of the city of New York, the exterior shots of the train and the chase sequence— as the actor ran across the tops and between the cars­­— was primarily shot in Philadelphia with additional footage in NYC.

Figure 1: Before

Figure 2: After

“The sequences of Statham running atop the subway cars, footage of views looking down at the subway track— and the bridge and water below— were shot on greenscreen at the Fern Rock facility in Philadelphia,” says DIVE VFX Supervisor Mark O. Forker. “Then we composited the scenes using track and bridge details from the aboveground PATCO train system. Many of those actual bridge and subway elements were textured into 3D models made in Maya. A number of the shots and plates required additional re-timing in order to match and keep train speeds consistent.”

Lastly, interior shots of subway cars, a helicopter shot of the train crossing the Manhattan Bridge, footage viewed outside the windows of the moving train, and the subway stations themselves were shot in New York City. The interiors were shot stationary on a platform with greenscreen outside of the windows. They were then composited, using Nuke, with footage shot while driving over the bridge via a DP-operated camera on the back of a truck.

DIVE’s talented VFX team melded all of the various elements, adroitly transforming them into a seamless and exciting climactic action sequence.

Starring Jason Statham, produced by IM Global and Lawrence Bender Productions and distributed by Lionsgate, SAFE is an action/thriller about a washed-up fighter whose life and family has been destroyed by the Russian mob. Alone and homeless, Statham is launched into a battle to defend a young Chinese girl (Catherine Chan) from two factions of warring gangsters. No ordinary child, the girl is the sole person to memorize a numerical code that has the power to change lives and Statham is only one who will protect her.