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Cinesite Delivers Invisible Effects for ‘The Revenant’

Under the lead of VFX supervisor Nicolas Chevallier, Cinesite provides digital matte paintings and set extensions, fluid and particle simulations, character animation, lighting, compositing and more for director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s ‘The Revenant.’

20th Century Fox’s ‘The Revenant.’

Alejandro González Iñárritu may want audiences to believe that the stunning visuals for 20th Century Fox’s The Revenant were captured entirely in-camera, but the film’s 630 VFX shots -- created by Industrial Light & Magic, MPC, Cinesite and Gradient FX, and comprising 122 minutes of the finished movie -- might prove otherwise. So might the Academy Award nomination for outstanding visual effects The Revenant received on Thursday.

Working alongside ILM’s Rich McBride, the film’s overall VFX supervisor, the Cinesite team, led by VFX supervisor Nicolas Chevallier, delivered 135 VFX shots comprising 38 minutes of film for The Revenant. The range of inviable effects included digital matte paintings and set extensions, fluid and particle fx simulations, character animation, lighting, cg trees, cleaning and compositing. However, Cinesite’s main task, working across its London, Montreal and Vancouver teams, was to create the fluid transitions between shots, eliminating cuts and enhancing the experiential aspect of the drama.

Stylistically, and in order to enhance the experiential aspect of the film, the action runs seamlessly with few cuts between shots; the visual effects were essential in allowing these fluid transitions. The production team provided post-visualization or editorial mock-ups for many shots, which were then used to define the timing of takes and where in shot the sweet point would fall to make each blend. 

Each shot required compositing multiple match-moved plates as well as 2D, 2.5D and 3D techniques to warp, project and animate invisible transitions. Cinesite’s team -- which was recognized with a VES nomination for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature -- received a wide range of meticulously organized reference material from the location, including props and characters, which were essential for rebuilding locations, as was often required for projection purposes and to achieve many of the stitches.

“Alejandro comes with a very strong reputation as an uncompromising creative film maker with great visual scope,” says Chevalier about his experience working with the famed director. “He was a professional collaborator and brought his vision to the whole team at Cinesite.”

Projects currently in production at Cinesite include Now You See Me: The Second Act, Gods of Egypt, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Independence Day: Resurgence, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and the animated feature Charming.

Source: Cinesite

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.