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MPC Delivers a VFX ‘Crash’ Course for Michael Mann’s ‘Ferrari’

The visual effects studio helps realize the director’s unique vision, including the film’s climax featuring racing driver De-Portago's famous crash; the team tracked and mapped the CG Ferrari to the practical crash, dramatically launching it into the packed racetrack crowd, populated by digi-doubles.

MPC completed a number of stellar visual effects on director Michael Mann’s 2023 compelling biopic, Ferrari, a dramatic retelling of Enzo Ferrari's auto empire crisis, set in 1957. MPC’s team, led by VFX supervisor Chris Ritvo and VFX producer Emma Gorbey, delivered on the director’s vision with the creation of detailed models of the hero Ferrari 351, the Ferrari 801 F1 car, and 30 additional car variations, environment extensions, digital crowds, and crash scenes.

While principal photography took place on location in Ferrari’s hometown of Modena, Italy, the 2.5D matte paintings and set extensions were crafted by MPC’s Environment team for recreation of Modena’s local racetrack, which once sat at the edge of the city, now a park. Production refurbished a derelict track for the shoot, and VFX provided CG backgrounds of the city with 3D set extensions of the track used to extend bleacher and pit areas, curbs, grass, and trees to recreate the 1957 aesthetic. MPC also re-created the exterior façade of the iconic Ferrari factory, reconstructing the building and the street environment using archival photo references.

For the 1957 French Grand Prix at Rouen-Les-Essarts, the studio’s environment team removed modern barriers and fencing and added period-accurate signage of the now modernized racing circuit at Imola. The sequence ends with a Ferrari driving through a fiery crash, created in full CG asset cars. FX simulations provided fire and smoke to blackout the racetrack.

MPC’s FX artists enhanced various crashes throughout the film. Stunt cars launched through the air were tracked and mapped by the VFX team, who replaced missing pieces and stunt rigging and added crash damage, as well as digi-double drivers. Digi-double crowds enhanced the number of extras lining the streets of the Mille Miglia race, giving the infamous race the necessary scale.

The climax of the third act is the now-famous crash of the Ferrari 335 driven by racing driver De-Portago. The MPC onset team worked closely with SFX to execute an elaborate and visceral crash, with SFX hurling an actual SFX rigged Ferrari down the road into a dummy crowd. VFX tracked and mapped the CG 335 Ferrari asset to the practical crash, replacing pieces obscured by stunt rigging. Crowd elements were filmed on a separate pass to provide initial pre-crash elements, followed by a digi-double take over as the car crashes into the crowd. Using as much car environment destruction as possible from the original plate, the team then added FX to complement and enhance the photography.

Source: MPC

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is news editor at Animation World Network.