From director / writer / producer Renny Harlin comes The Legend of Hercules, an epic action adventure starring Twilight star Kellan Lutz as the titular hero. Shot by Harlin and cinematographer Sam McCurdy in stereo 3D for Millennium Films, the movie also stars Gaia Weiss as love-interest Hebe, the Princess of Crete, and Scott Adkins as the tyrannical King Amphitryon, whom Hercules must overthrow to restore peace to Ancient Greece.
Prime Focus World was brought on board by the filmmakers to realise an exciting action sequence for the movie, which sees Hercules and his followers do battle with their enemies in a cave, including reverse shots looking out of the cave across mythological landscapes and epic mountain ranges. The live action elements were shot with stereo cameras against green-screen, and the PFW team made an early decision, influenced by the short timeframe available, to work in mono, and then bring in the PFW View-D™ team to stereo convert the VFX work to match the natively shot live action.
"Integrating our VFX and View-D offerings, and leveraging our highly developed pipeline, Prime Focus World has realised a stunning action sequence for The Legend of Hercules within a challenging timeframe," said Chief Creative Director Merzin Tavaria.
Prime Focus World VFX Supervisor Joshua Saeta led the VFX teams in PFW’s Vancouver and Mumbai studios, delivering 147 VFX shots in just three weeks.
"Most of our work on The Legend of Hercules involved the creation of a convincing environment for the spectacular action set-piece in the caves," said Joshua. "We built a deep, photo-realistic environment for the battle scene that complemented the photography, created the epic landscape outside the caves, and animated props such as CG bow strings, arrows and shields to enhance the action."
During the texturing and rendering of the interior of the caves, it was particularly important that the CG environment matched the pieces of set that had been shot during principal photography. The team used textures and references shot on set, and employed various techniques in the lighting and compositing of the environments to ensure that the match was seamless.
Other VFX work required included crowd replication, digital matte painting, the creation of a photo-real shield which is thrown and used as a weapon, and the animation of lots of arrows being fired, and hitting shields and bodies.
Throughout the process, the VFX team worked very closely with the View-D stereo conversion team, discussing shot composition and handing off VFX elements as shots were internally finalled to allow the conversion work to begin.
"Our in-house View-D team took our final mono comps and handled the process from there," said Joshua Saeta. "It was a very interesting process. Some of the shots may have looked a little odd in 2D, with lots of negative space, but when I saw the finals in 3D these parts of the frame had been pushed far away in depth. Defocusing these areas gave an amazing sense of depth to the scenes."
The View-D stereo conversion work for The Legend of Hercules was mainly completed by PFW’s Mumbai based team under the local supervision of PFW stereographer Jimmy Phillip, with show supervision provided out of Vancouver by Ben Murray and Ritesh 'Ricky' Aggarwal.
"The 147 stereo shots we delivered for this show were completed in a tight timeframe of just three weeks," commented PFW Senior Stereographer Ben Murray. "With our mature conversion pipeline out of Mumbai, we were able to work on shots around the clock, using the time difference between Vancouver and Mumbai to transfer elements between sites and share the work."
Another technique employed by the View-D team to ensure timely delivery was implemented during the integration of the natively shot stereo footage and the converted CG environments created by the PFW VFX team. An integrated stereo compositing technique was developed by the team in Mumbai for areas of the frame that did not require full conversion, drastically reducing the amount of paint-work required and speeding up the process considerably.
The project required a strong, unified approach to ensure the filmmaker’s deadlines for the project were met, and PFW producer Chad Cortvriendt in Vancouver worked across the VFX and View-D teams to ensure that each had the elements they required to deliver to the timeline. On approval of the mono VFX shots, element breakouts were immediately made available to the View-D team, allowing work on the show to progress very quickly.
"Our work on The Legend of Hercules really pushed the boundaries of the hybrid stereo approach we are able to offer," concluded Ben Murray. "We provided the filmmakers with an integrated VFX / conversion offering and an integrated native / conversion approach – something that very few other facilities would be capable of doing. Having taken a similar approach on The Great Gatsby, we feel this is a very viable, cost and time effective solution which is unique in the industry."
RELEASE: January 10, 2014
Director: Renny Harlin
Producers: Boaz Davidson, Danny Lerner, Les Weldon, Renny Harlin
Studio / Distributor: Summit Entertainment
PFW Supervisor: Joshua Saeta
PFW Producer: Chad Cortvriendt, Stephen Bahr, Cassius Vaz
PFW Scope of Work: VFX, 147 shots & additional 3D Conversion
PFW Lead Facility: Vancouver
PFW Associate Team: Mumbai