Cinesite announced that it completed visual effects shots on the new Columbia Pictures/ 20th Century Fox’s film, The Monuments Men. Directed by and starring George Clooney, The Monuments Men has a fantastic cast including Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Cate Blanchett, amongst other A-list Hollywood stars.
Clooney, who also co-wrote the script with Grant Heslov, has based the film on the non-fiction book ‘The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History’ by Robert M. Edsel. The story centres on a group of art experts, selected by the U.S. Government to chase down the stolen art of Europe during World War II, before it is destroyed and lost forever.
Cinesite’s VFX Supervisor for The Monuments Men was Jon Neill, working with Angus Bickerton, the overall production VFX Supervisor for the film.
A range of sequences were completed by Cinesite, including one stunning shot where Campbell (Bill Murray) turns on the lights in an underground salt mine. As the lights stutter on, a vast array of bullion and cash is revealed, stretching back as far as the eye can see.
Photogrammetry reference of the objects on set was used to create models which were laid out in a Maya scene and lighting rig. An image was rendered from a fully ray-traced, global illuminated scene with all the lights switched on. The team set up a script in Nuke where light passes could illuminate the background in any order, by bringing through the beauty pass and adding proper directional shadows. In the final shot, the flickering light gradually reveals the depths of the cavern.
Other sequences include shots filmed at Shrivenham airfield, exterior environments around the partially destroyed Aachen Cathedral and a sequence on the Streets of Siegen. The latter sequence was shot on the Aachen set of an old refinery. Belgian houses and cafes were removed from the background, and using photogrammic reference, newly destroyed ruins and piles of rubble were created. This was laid out in Modo as a fully CG scene with the destroyed city merging into forest and hills, rendering the finished shot in 3D to give an epic sense of parallax.