Post Magazine

August 2016

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Page 13 of 51

VISUAL EFFECTS 12 POST AUGUST 2016 n August 5th, Warner Bros. re- leased Suicide Squad, a new super- hero film based on the DC Comics team of the same name. Written and directed by David Ayer, the feature stars an ensem- ble cast that includes Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman and Viola Davis, among others. The imprisoned super villains are assembled into a special squad by the US government in order to execute dan- gerous missions. MPC served as one of the film's primary visual effects hous- es, splitting duties with Sony Pictures Imageworks. Post caught up with MPC VFX supervisor Robert Winter in late July, as the film was being readied for release. Here, he talks of MPC's effects contribu- tions, its global post pipeline and some of the film's more challenging scenes. How many shots did MPC contribute to Suicide Squad. I would imagine the studio had a number of summer films in the works simultaneously? "MPC delivered about 700 shots for the film. I think at some point, at the start of the year, we had somewhere like 17 films [in the works] and a few were big summer films. There's a lot going on for sure." What shots in Suicide Squad were you responsible for? "Jerome Chen, who is the client-side super- visor, split the show into two main parts. We did all the work outside the rail station, where there is a big battle that takes place. All the work inside the rail station was done by Sony Imageworks, so they did a large portion of the film." For MPC, what does that represent? "Probably more than any film that I've worked on in the last five years, the scope of the work was quite large and very diverse. We had shots where we did a CG double of Killer Croc swimming under- water, all the way to a satellite in space getting destroyed. We did just about anything you can imagine in terms of CG characters, set extensions, CG environ- ments, destruction — a lot of destruction." What was the directive as far as the look? "David Ayer and Jerome stressed that they wanted physical effects with a lot of im- pact and energy. We did a lot of destruc- tion. We destroyed aircraft, buildings…We even had a CG set piece that was a burn- ing skyscraper. It was a really cool visual set piece for one of the big fire fights." How far back did you begin work on the film? "It was April of 2015 when we started working on creative turnovers and build- ing assets." Did the shot count grow over time? "It grew, but not by an insane amount. Probably by about 15 to 20 percent. We definitely pushed the envelope in terms of trying to maximize the effort of our worldwide workforce, especially with the sheer volume and turnaround schedules we have these days. It was definitely a global collaborative effort. Vancouver and Montreal delivered roughly 300 shots for the film, and then London delivered 100, so we had shot finaling done at those three facilities. And then our Bangalore, India, office did a lot of work on the asset creation. The Santa Monica facility, which is now the Culver City facility, since we finished the show — it started in Santa Monica — they did a lot of previs work as well. And the art department there did conceptual work." So MPC did previs too? "We helped out as they started to rework some of the action scenes and stuff like that during post. We had our previs team help out and do some of that work. We sent in our work to Jerome, who was with the director and the production offices, to final the work." Talk about MPC's global workforce? "We basically have found a way to work. I am in Montreal. We've found a nice little niche in terms of the eastern time zone, being able to talk with India first thing in the morning and at the end of their day, and have things later in the day, as the dateline moves west into the Pacific region. We bookend the day with the far east and India, and then the western time zones in the evening." Are you using a Maya pipeline? "We definitely use Maya for a lot of our asset creation in terms of hard-surface modeling, character modeling and that type of thing. We animate with Maya. We had a lot of effects animation in this film and we had to broaden our tool chest. We incorporated more use of Houdini than we have in previous shows." What is the advantage of using SideFX Houdini? "We had such tight turnarounds, in terms of schedules, that we literally had to look at what is the best tool or has the very specific feature that we need that we can get up and rolling and get activated very quickly. Our pipeline supports Houdini internally. We have a destruction solver. SUICIDE SQUAD MPC'S WORLDWIDE RESOURCES COME TOGETHER FOR THIS NEW WARNER BROS. FILM BY MARC LOFTUS O As a lead VFX house, MPC handled approximately 700 shots for the film.

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