Visual Effects for 20th Century Fox’s ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ Composited in Fusion Studio
Blackmagic Design’s Fusion Studio was used by VFX house Doc & A Soc to construct some of the most complex visual effects (VFX) in Matthew Vaughn’s latest worldwide cinema release Kingsman: The Secret Service.
In the film, Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton) lives in a South London housing estate and seems headed for a life behind bars. However, a suave Harry Hart (Colin Firth) recognizes potential in the youth and and recruits him to the ranks of a British secret spy organization, known as Kingsman. Two-time BAFTA nominated visual effects supervisor John Paul Docherty (Skyfall, The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, and The Golden Compass) worked as a vendor on the comic book adaptation, compositing more than 100 shots in Fusion Studio.
Docherty worked closely with digital matte painter Jim Bowers to create 360-degree environments for key sequences in the film, including a huge hangar filled with a myriad of aircraft and secret service staff, which is Eggsy’s first glimpse into the true scale of the Kingsman organization.
“The whole shot was an environment created by matte painter Jim Bowers, and we added in various moving elements, including workmen, a plane being towed and a man arc welding at the back, which is a little throwback to Lost in Space,” said Docherty. “There is about ten layers of environment in that shot, and then we ran it through Fusion Studio’s 3D environment. The shot went through an awful lot of changes within Fusion, including re-lighting the whole thing, without needing any additional elements from Jim and then the foregrounds shot was keyed on.”
Compositing for major explosion effects also was carried out in Fusion Studio, with Docherty creating glass shatter effects, together with mattes of building exteriors, which were overlayed on live pyrotechnic footage shot with high-speed cameras. “In the explosion sequence, we had to deal with four shots filmed with high-speed cameras at Levesden on a cold, rainy day. I then had to render this in, together with the glass shattering effects I’d created. We had to deal with multiple image formats and lots of lens distortion, as well as some pretty dramatic color space and resolution differences before we could effectively comp in the office and taxi elements.”
Fusion’s Dimension Optical Flow toolset also was a key element in Docherty’s workflow, particularly when complex respeeding issues had to be overcome. “In one scene, we move from the aftermath of an action sequence to a moving taxi with the Kingsman logo flashing on a back seat monitor. This looks like quite a simple shot, but the speeds on both sides had been adjusted by the editor, which works really well; however, he would throw in cut frames that made the respeeds very complex. Fusion’s Optical Flow did very well handling all of that.”
Conflicting schedules meant that overall visual effects supervisor Steve Begg had to move onto another production, so Docherty was asked to take over as additional visual effects supervisor, splitting the remaining VFX workload with industry legend John Bruno. In this capacity, Docherty covered a broad spectrum of shots, ranging from full CG and environmental simulation to cosmetic retouches, fixes and pyro work. “There’s a very long shot where Valentine, played by Samuel L. Jackson, is revealing his evil plan to Michael Caine’s character, Arthur. The actors were shot on different days with different camera moves and no motion control. The complex workflow involved a load of tracked patches, respeeds and reanimated elements, as well as heavy-duty color matching. Fusion handled it with ease,” Docherty said.