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Cinesite Enhances Reality For Spy Game

Cinesite Hollywood completed two dozen shots for Universal Studios' new film SPY GAME, directed by Tony Scott and starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. Cinesite's work included the enhancement of reflections in an interrogation scene, blowing out a grid of lights in a night landscape scene, and adding muzzle flashes, sparks, bullet holes, dust and debris. Cinesite visual effects supervisor Kevin Lingenfelser said there are no blue or green screen shots in the film. A few explosions occur in the film, but they were achieved using practical, in-camera methods. According to Lingenfelser, the most complicated effects shot is in a sequence near the end of the film when Redford and his team blow out a lighting grid near the prison where Brad Pitt is being held. First Cinesite had to create the grid. "We had to add all the lights, and then take them out area by area," said Lingenfelser. "The lights were created as a matte painting by our art director, Lubo Kristoff. We then tracked the still frame artwork into this massive land piece to match the original camera work. We went through a series of test animations for shutting the power down in grids. There were lights of varying intensities and sizes, so we played with fading off some of the larger lights as well. It was important to give it a slight randomness to make it more real." Cinesite also worked on a long dolly shot where Redford and Pitt run through a dangerous looking alley in Beirut. Artists added 3D particle animation squib hits and 2D bullet holes to the buildings. In another sequence, Pitt is forced by his captors to grab hold of an electrical grid that shoots off sparks. Part of the challenge was to make the size of the sparks seem the same in the wide and close-up shots, where they had to be larger in the frame. "Effects for reality films are some of the more challenging work that we do," Lingenfelser concluded. "They can help augment tension and bring realism to the story, but shouldn't call attention to themselves."