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August 2018

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Page 20 of 43 19 POST AUGUST 2018 DNEG CREATES TOP- NOTCH, THRILLING VFX FOR MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE — FALLOUT BY CHRISTINE BUNISH T he sixth film in the franchise, Mission: Impossible — Fallout has been called a culmi- nation of all of the previous films in the series, with characters returning and storylines tied up as Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team and allies race the clock after a mission goes wrong. Presented by Paramount Pictures and Skydance, the Tom Cruise/Bad Robot Production takes the audience to some new locations as the pace never lets up and Cruise performs his most amazing stunts ever. Double Negative (Dneg) in London and Mumbai was the primary VFX vendor for the film, with British- based BlueBolt, One of Us and Lola lending a hand. An in-house VFX team from Cheap Shot worked alongside editorial and music, while Blind provided post graphics. "The first approach was always a practical solu- tion," says Dneg VFX supervisor Jody Johnson, who acted in the same capacity for the film. "Director Christopher McQuarrie was very vocal about shoot- ing the stunts practically. We worked with him, the stunt team led by Wade Eastwood, and the special effects team led by Neil Corbould, to achieve certain sequences. After shooting the stunts, VFX came along to sweep up the bits and pieces with rig and camera removal, set extensions, weather changes and some bluescreen work." As outrageous and exciting as the stunts are, they never cross the line into fantasy or cartoons. The action is grounded in reality, and VFX helps to sell their believability. "Throughout the film we augmented what the guys did for real," notes Johnson. "We took up the pieces and finished things off." The film shot on three continents for almost a year, with Johnson on- set for the duration. THE BIG STUNT The biggest stunt sequence was the HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) jump, in which Hunt and CIA agent August Walker (played by Henry Cavill) parachute 25,000 feet from a C-17 Globemaster III military plane flying over Paris and land on the glass roof of the Grand Palais, only to realize there's no way down. Hunt crawls to a high-tension wire, disconnects it and uses it to swing back, grab Walker and rappel to the ground. Cruise and Cavill received intense training in skydiv- ing and the use of oxygen for the high-altitude flight. The stunt was originally scheduled to shoot at an RAF base near London but when Cruise broke his ankle pushing production into winter, the location shifted to Abu Dhabi. "The HALO jump is almost three minutes long and appears to be one take," says Johnson. "We talked to the director and DP Rob Hardy about what kind of lighting they wanted for the sky scene. They wanted that blue moment when the sun dips over the horizon and you get that beautiful orange line and a lapis blue sky a few minutes before nightfall. "To get the most authentic results they needed to shoot at that time of day, so they only got one go at it every day over a three-week period. Tom and his team did four to seven practice jumps daily, then at the last moment, they'd jump for the camera at exact- ly the right time. So there weren't that many takes to work with — maybe 18 of them. We had to take the best parts of each jump and join them together for one take as they leap out of the plane, pass through a storm, come out of the storm over Paris and land on the roof of the Grand Palais. We only used digital doubles for a couple of moments to join the A-to-B sides and match positions." Dneg created the storm with VFX and crafted a digital matte painting and 3D Paris to replace the Abu Dhabi desert. "We got up on the roof of the Grand Palais at night, 300 feet over Paris, to shoot live plates and photogrametry with a drone to allow us to build the model you see at the end of the HALO jump," Johnson explains. That was no mean feat given the proximity of the French president's residence and high-security measures. "As Hunt and Walker are coming in for a landing we replaced Abu Dhabi with the CG palace and, as they got closer, with a full 3D model of the palace. When they cut to the landing, that's a big set in England. Production designer Peter Wenham and his team built an amazing facsimile of the roof they land on, which we set extended out with our model, lidar and the live plates of Paris we shot." Johnson notes that an enormous amount of material was captured in Paris to use in VFX shots. "Wherever we went we always gathered as much photo reference, data and live-action material as pos- sible. We had a three-camera Red Weapon 6K array in a fast and nimble Bombardier off-road vehicle to shoot driving plates. We also had lidar and photos of locations to give us flexibility in post when we had to remove cameras from shots, change signs, add cars and add people into the deep background. Turns out we needed all that information." Although some of the hire-wire stunt sequence did not make it into the finished film, Dneg performed crowd replication to create 20,000 ravers in the Grand Palais below using full CG and 2D sprites to expand the number of dancers. HIGH-SPEED CHASE Early in the film Hunt is involved in a high-speed chase involving a motorcycle, a classic BMW M5 automobile and an armored truck. "We were lucky to have unique and unprecedented access to Paris — the local authorities gave us access to incredible locations," says Johnson. "But the Arc de Triomphe was only closed for two hours Sunday morning starting at 6am and the Opera also for only a short time. So there was no time to set all the vehicles precisely to make sure the Russian arm or a camera vehicle were not in the shot. We had to paint out crews and do some set extensions. So there was a lot to clean up to help tell the story." For the part of the chase that finds Hunt driving

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