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Opening today from Relativity Media and helmed by visionary director
Tarsem Singh (THE CELL, THE FALL),
IMMORTALS is not your garden-variety myth adventure, but a rousing, gory and R-rated
fantasy flick where gods and humans (lead by good guy Henry Cavill as Theseus and
a demonic Mickey Rourke as evil King Hyperion) clash for supremacy. FX wizards
at Tippett Studio (TWILIGHT films, PRIEST, DRAG ME TO HELL) brought the film’s
fearsome Titans (former gods trapped on Earth) to life and orchestrated
IMMORTALS’ bloody finale. The project’s visual FX supervisor, Matt Jacobs,
gave Fango the scoop on his company’s unique work on the film.
FANGORIA: What kind of “marching orders” were you given on IMMORTALS?
JACOBS: Tarsem’s instruction was,
basically, make the Titans look cool and make them look real.
FANG: How were the Titans described in the script?
JACOBS: When we were first given
the scene, the Titans were described as the embodiment of rage and the fight
was to be a ballet of blood.
FANG: The climactic battle scene is really nasty. Were you
asked to ever scale the horrific nature up or down?
JACOBS: No, the intent was always
to make the scene graphic and gory; it should be over the top. Athena [Isabel Lucas]
alone cuts off a half dozen heads or more. Poseidon [Kellan
Lutz] skewers several of his victims. And Zeus [Luke Evans]
goes to town with a chain, smashing several Titans and splitting one from stem
to stern. However, with that level of gore, we did have to find a balance as to
how much blood we should have. Nobody wanted the effects to enter the world of
“campy,” which could easily happen if we had too much blood flying around. One
of the more tasteful but epic deaths was of a Titan being thrown into the cell
wall by Poseidon. We added broken, twisted leg
bones, jutting ribs and a decent size plume of blood to him after hitting the
wall. It was all done in just the right amount to make you look at it and go,
FANG: Why was it decided to do the Titans action bits motion
JACOBS: The reason for using
motion capture was because the fight choreography between the Gods and Titans
was very particular. On set we shot takes of the Gods fighting the stunt
Titans, then a take would be done without the stunt Titans. Once we were done
shooting, we immediately went to the mocap stage to recreate the fight
choreography with the same actors. Motion capture was the fastest and most
direct method of recreating the fight sequence.
FANG: Could they have been realized with regular actors and
JACOBS: We could use the stunt
Titans right up to the point where heads started flying and guys get cut in
half. When the Titans die, they move into slow motion and that meant we would
be tweaking the motion capture performance.
The plan was initially to have all the Titans in the scene
be computer generated because Tarsem wanted a particular texture on their skin
and there were post effects we planned on doing to the performances. The
texture was to have a bit more of a black, cracked earth texture and a higher
relief. In the end, there were more shots with practical Titans than originally
planned (due to budget issues), and we ended up matching their look so that the
shots worked across the cut.
FANG: How were the gore FX accomplished?
JACOBS: All of the blood in the
scene was accomplished through fluid dynamics in Houdini
and Maya. We decided early on that all of the blood would have to be done this
way because we wanted to be able to direct the fluids as opposed to shooting
elements and getting what you get. Directing fluids can be difficult, but in
the end it offered greater flexibility to achieve the look we wanted. Plus the
show was to be converted to stereo and we wanted the blood to work well in 3D.
Body parts, guts and such were all modeled and integrated into the special rigs
for the wounds.
FANG: Was any of that practical?
JACOBS: Only the beheadings…
kidding of course.
FANG: How hands-on was Tarsem with IMMORTALS?
JACOBS: Tarsem is obviously a
very visual person and was very clear about what he was looking for from the
scene. He is incredibly skilled at crafting pictures and everything about the
film is a direct reflection of his aesthetic tastes. That being said, Tarsem
was very open and let us incorporate ideas that we thought would make the shots
the best they could be. IMMORTALS was a very collaborative experience for us.
FANG: What else does Tippett Studio have coming up?
JACOBS: We completed work on THE
TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN, PART 1,
which releases on November 18. And right now the studio is in production on
Tarsem’s Snow White picture called MIRROR, MIRROR and Seth MacFarlane’s
film called TED, which should be
hilarious. We will soon begin work on the final TWILIGHT movie, BREAKING DAWN, PART 2.
FANG: Anything different to expect in BREAKING DAWN?
JACOBS: Wolves, wolves and more
FANG: Will there be creatures in MIRROR, MIRROR?
JACOBS: Can’t tell you just yet,
but the work is certainly challenging and really cool. We are having some fun
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