All this week, we’re serving up appetisers from issue 139 of Cinefex magazine. In The Longest Day, Jody Duncan’s 21-page article on the making of Edge of Tomorrow, in which Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of life and death as he tries to unravel the mystery behind a devastating alien invasion.
In this extract, production visual effects supervisor Nick Davis discusses the futuristic exo-suits worn by Cage and his battle-weary comrades.
Early on, the filmmakers had considered putting performers in minimal armor pieces, and then tracking the majority of the suit as a digital construct; but they soon dismissed the idea.
“We knew that the suits would be able to do a lot more if they were mostly CG,” said Davis, “but both Tom Cruise and Doug Liman wanted to do as much as they could practically. Tom was absolutely adamant that he be in the suit, because he felt that it would help him as an actor.”
Suit modeler Pierre Bohanna built the practical exo-suits from art department designs, which the actors then trained in for several months. “The actors worked really hard to learn to perform in these very heavy suits,” said Davis. “Pierre and his team made them as lightweight as possible, but they still weighed many, many pounds, and it was very hard work for the actors to wear them.”
The sheer weight of the suit required that some digital parts be tracked to Emily Blunt, whose small size precluded her from being able to carry the full load for extended periods of time. The one digital feature tracked to all of the suits were the ‘angel wing’ guns mounted on the back of the arms. “They built practical ones for us to scan and photograph, but they never got used in the movie. They were always digital.”
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