Unbroken – Cinefex 141 Extract

by Graham Edwards

Cinefex 141 - "Unbroken"

All this week, we’re featuring exclusive extracts from our brand new magazine issue, Cinefex 141, now available in both print and digital editions.

Unbroken tells the remarkable true story of Louis Zamperini, an American long-distance runner and Olympian, who joined the Army Air Forces as a B-24 bombardier during World War II, was shot down over the Pacific, survived on a raft for 47 days, only to be rescued, incarcerated and relentlessly tortured by his Japanese captors. In presenting this tale of boundless courage and survival on screen, director Angelina Jolie engaged effect artists at Industrial Light & Magic, Rodeo FX, Animal Logic, Ghost VFX, Hybride and Lola VFX to replicate the 1936 Berlin Olympic venues and create intense sequences of aerial combat and the sea and land ordeals that followed.

In this excerpt from Jody Duncan’s article, The Long Run, Bill George explains how Lola VFX used digital techniques to simulate the effects of extreme weight loss on actors Jack O’Connell and Domhnall Gleeson,

Though both actors managed to decrease their weight significantly through fasting, the severity of the characters’ emaciation required some digital effects enhancement by Lola VFX. Production visual effects supervisor Bill George shot clean plates, when possible, on the set, recorded camera data, and put tracking markers on the actors’ bodies as aids to visual effects supervisor Edson Williams and his team at Lola VFX.

At Lola, artists created a 2D mesh that was tracked to the actors, enabling them to shrink areas of their bodies to within the confines of the mesh. “It was very effective,” said George. “They also had to do a lot of roto and re-creating backgrounds using the clean plates – if they had them. For many of the emaciation shots, the background was a sea of other soldiers milling about, so no clean plates were possible.” For a closeup on Louie’s face, which Jolie wanted to look more sunken and hollow, the on-set visual effects team sent Lola a scan of Jack O’Connell’s head. Lola then tracked and lit the head scan to create highlights on the brows and shadows in the eye sockets and under the zygomatic arch. “Lola did an amazing job with all of these shots.”

Read the complete article in Cinefex 141, which also features The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Jupiter Ascending and Chappie.

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