Search form

MPC Delivers Photo-Real VFX for ‘American Sniper’

Led by VFX supervisor Greg Butler, MPC completes 200 shots -- including complex 3D work -- for Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-nominated feature.

Lead by MPC Vancouver VFX Supervisor Greg Butler, MPC’s team completed 200 shots for Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures. Overall VFX Supervisor and long time Eastwood collaborator, Michael Owens, tasked MPC with most of the films complex 3D work. This included environments, CG vehicles, digital crowds and fx simulations.

MPC’s team created set extensions and enhancements to various forward operating base scenes. This allowed the shots to have greater scale and activity then the location footage allowed for.

A number of military vehicles were built digitally. These were used to augment the small number of real vehicles used on the location shoots. Digital assets included an AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter, Humvee, MRAP and M1A1 Abrams tank.

For scenes shot in Morocco, only M60 Patton tanks were available so MPC replaced these with digital M1A1 tanks similar to those used in the Iraq War.

A high-resolution digital matte painting was created showing a section of the city where Chris Kyle suspects there is an enemy sniper firing on US Marines. The painting is seen in a number of shots, with a sniper scope graphic overlaid.

For the third act battle sequence, the environment team created a virtual Sadr City. Working from available internet references of Northern Baghdad, the look of the city also incorporated elements of the filming location near El Centro, California. As the battle intensifies, MPC’s crowd team added digital insurgents and the FX team created a CG sand storm. The storm slowly moves towards the factory roof where the Americans soldiers are rapidly running out of ammunition. Just before the dust engulfs the combatants, a US helicopter fires a hellfire missile over the heads of the Navy Seals. MPC worked from storyboards to create a short action sequence that incorporated the virtual Sadr City, dust storm simulations and a CG helicopter. Footage of the pilot and gunner was filmed on a small Black Magic camera and integrated with a digital cockpit interior.

Eastwood directed American Sniper from a screenplay written by Jason Hall, based on the book by Chris Kyle, with Jim DeFelice and Scott McEwen. Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller star in the film, produced by Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Cooper and Peter Morgan. Tim Moore, Jason Hall, Sheroum Kim, Steven Mnuchin and Bruce Berman served as executive producers. Warner Bros. Pictures presents in Association with Village Roadshow Pictures, A Mad Chance Production, A 22nd & Indiana Production.

Source: MPC

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.