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BOT VFX Battles it out with Xander Cage

BOT VFX added a dash of their digital magic to the extreme skydiving, jetskiing, fistfighting action in xXx: Return of Xander Cage through their work on over 80 visual effects shots. Third in the xXx series, xXx: Return of Xander Cage follows (obviously) Xander Cage (Vin Diesel), in his adventures as a criminal turned government secret agent. Cage in this outing gathers a team of equally badass cohorts in order to rescue a stolen government super weapon, from villain Xiang (Donnie Yen).

Working with Academy Award winning VFX shop PIXOMONDO, BOT VFX assisted in two challenging sequences.  The first was a fight sequence inside a cargo plane and the following sequence where Cage plummets to the earth sans parachute.

In the fight sequence BOT’s artists were tasked with removing the rigs and stunt harnesses attached to each actor using digital paint, in order to make the characters appear to be in freefall inside the plane.  While painting out the rigs, the artists ran into obstacles in matching the grain. To overcome this BOT developed an in-house tool in Nuke to match the grain with the plate, which was essential for delivering on time.  Adding to the complexity was the clothing itself.  Maintaining the intricate camouflage patterns of soldiers and Cage’s jacket was a difficult and time consuming experience.

In the following sequence Cage jumps out of the jet holding a crate containing a parachute, BOT had the challenge of matching greenscreen shots with stunt worked filmed thousands of feet above. BOT artists successfully overcame this challenge as they meticulously painted out the stunt rigs and harnesses in each frame and applied rotoscopy on Cage himself extracting him from the greenscreen.

The team solely used the Foundry’s Nuke for Rotoscopy, using it to match motion blurs and defocus edges on the mattes.  Photoshop was used in digital paint shots that required frame by frame attention while Nuke and Mocha Pro were used on more procedural tracking shots.

Department Head, Saravanan Sala, stated that “while facing challenges with matching perspective and parallax for the show; our creative team gained confidence handling the large amount of shots recreating the actors amongst all their rigging.”

BOT VFX is proud of their part in helping to create the world of Xander Cage in his latest frenetic action adventure film and is looking forward to another sequel.

BOT VFX enters the Dark Dimension for Dr. Strange

Leaping beyond the confines of a comic book panel can be a tricky task, especially when trying to establish a believable world that movie theatre audiences have never seen.  The ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe took on this challenge with 2016’s Dr. Strange.  Directed by Scott Derrickson, it’s not a story of just another city-saving reluctant hero in a cape (actually, in this story even the cape was a hero).  Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular hero, the film is nothing short of a hallucinatory head-trip.

Luma Pictures was responsible for some of the most difficult VFX shots in the film.  Not surprisingly, Vince Cirelli of Luma Pictures was one of the nominees for Best Visual Effects in a Motion Picture at this year’s Academy Awards.  Vince and his team at Luma leaned on BOT’s expertise and capacity to assist with some complicated and painstaking work to help Luma’s compositors seamlessly integrate CG elements into the live action plates.

BOTs were tasked with assisting on two of the most mind-bending parts of the film, totalling over 150 shots: the opening sequence starring Tilda Swinton (The Ancient One) and Mads Mikkelsen (Kaecilius), and the climactic battle between Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange) and an uncredited Benedict Cumberbatch playing an other-worldly villain (Dormammu). Over the course of 3 months, a team of over 30 BOTs was led by Srikanth S. on the rotoscopy and paint front and Govardhan A.B. on the matchmove front.

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The most challenging of the BOTs’ tasks was the removal of complicated stunt rigs and wires.  To help create a level of realism in the unreal world of the story, plates were shot with intricate camera moves along with changing lighting conditions.  Using tools like Foundry’s Nuke, the team used a combination of procedural techniques, frame-by-frame manual painting, and a hybrid approach combining the two.  The artists and the Supervisor relied on their experience to judge case by case, shot by shot, which approaches would be most efficient and effective.

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Multiple deadlines and clashing deliveries were met with meticulous planning, scheduling, and collaborating. The team came through in true superhero spirit.

As 3D Supervisor Govardhan A.B. puts it, “The timeline towards the end was very tight. The minutest of details had to be worked on in an extremely short timespan, but the team’s support was phenomenal.”

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BOT’s goal was to deliver exceptional work on time and budget. After successfully racing to the finish line, BOT VFX Executive Producer Hetal Jain gushed, “Working with Vince and his team at Luma is always an enriching experience for BOT; we’re glad to be associated with a film that’s an Oscar nominee.”