Behind the scenes
We were excited to have the opportunity to work on two adrenaline-fueled action sequences for Sam Hargreaves’ Extraction 2 on Netflix. Our team took the lead on creating the assets for a fully-digital awning and gym, which sit atop the 57th floor of Vienna’s iconic DC Tower 1.
In addition to the awning, we were also tasked with creating a 360-degree animated panorama from helicopter photography, which we projected onto geometry to add depth and realism to Vienna’s sprawling cityscape. This was shared with multiple vendors working on other sequences set in the building to establish continuity throughout the film and included a fully simulated traffic system.
Working closely with client-side supervisor Bjorn Mayer and VFX Producer Magdalena Wolf, our team – led by VFX Supervisor Will Towle, CG Supervisor Qazi Hamza Javed, and Compositing Supervisor Adam Paschke – delivered almost 150 shots over the course of six months. Of these, almost half were entirely digital, except for the hero actors, who were extracted from plate photography.
“The awning sequence was our main focus on the film. Shot on bluescreen with a placeholder set, we were challenged to design, model, texture, and light a photo-real awning and gym to replace the on-set photography, which was contaminated by reflections of the bluescreen, crew and camera-rigs. With the help of on-set photography and dozens of other references, we meticulously recreated the set and added additional elements like weathering, birefringence, and anisotropic reflections to give the building a physical presence.” Will Towle.
Adding to the complexity of the sequence was the crucial role of continuity – as our heroes fight it out with the villains, the awning becomes increasingly damaged. To accommodate for this, the CG team at Fin had to create eight variants of the building, each with an additional level of destruction that took into account any damage and simulations that had taken place in the shots preceding it.
For the simulations, our team utilized fluid dynamics for blood hits and explosions and rigid-body dynamics for the shattering glass. To achieve a photorealistic result, our artists studied photography of tempered glass shattering and recreated the look in Houdini before passing the results to the lookdev department to ensure that the resulting renders matched the rest of the sequence.
As we replaced the whole set with CG, we also undertook the task of creating digi-doubles for almost every shot on the awning for use in reflections and relighting the plate. Using photoscans from the shoot, our CG team, led by Qazi Hamza Javed, created four unique characters that needed to be match-moved into the shots with near-perfect accuracy.
Our final challenge was to get the fully modeled and lookdev’d awning into the shots. With almost ninety CG-heavy shots to render, we broke the sequence down into eight unique views and assigned each view a “hero shot.” Once the hero shot had been lit and approved, we rendered all the shots from that view, the resulting renders were then reviewed and approved or given notes for a more bespoke lighting setup. This process allowed us to prioritize creative lighting and still deliver the large volume of shots.
“Our compositing team, led by Adam Paschke, faced the challenge of combining the above-mentioned assets with the 360-degree Vienna panorama and plate photography for approximately 150 shots in total. With so many shots and the fact that the two sequences cut interchangeably between each other, color workflow management and continuity were absolutely essential. Adam, myself, and our development team at Fin created a neutral-grade workflow for the project, which allowed all of our work to take place within a neutrally-graded environment.
This meant that plate photography could be combined with CG-generated elements with little to no per-shot grading.” Will Towle.
For both sequences, our comp team relied on a templated workflow within Nuke to automatically import all the necessary elements and renders for each shot. From there, the artists had access to multiple light-groups and AOVs to assist in matching the lighting conditions of the plates.
Fin Design + Effects is thrilled to have been entrusted with delivering visual effects for Extraction 2.
It has been an absolute privilege to work alongside all of the immensely talented individuals involved in this project.