Among the wild thrills strewn throughout the non-stop action in Knight and Day, the wildest could easily be the signature motorcycle chase through the sizzling streets of Seville, Spain. While a huge part of the scene was the prowess of star Tom Cruise piloting the supped-up Ducati road bike, credit needs to go to the visual effects artists who help ratchet up the action to a fever pitch.
The centerpiece of the chase sequence includes a crowd of charging bulls running through the street and nearly knocking both Tom and his courageous co-star, Cameron Diaz, off the motorcycle. Here’s where the visual effects come to play. While the star really did ride the red Ducati through a crowd of bulls, that herd was thickened up through the use of computer graphics.
In an article from FX Guide, it’s revealed how the charging beasts were magically inserted into the shot. The first piece for any visual effects is obviously the principal photography. The scenes are shot with the appropriate space and green screens to seamlessly insert the computer generated action later. In the case of Knight and Day, the action was heightened with the amount of stunt work Tom Can Cameron were able to do prior to visual effects. Doing the stunts live, or “in the camera,” helps the visual effects crew make the action seem even more intense. When there’s already real action in the scene, adding to it through visual effects just cranks it up a notch.
During the shooting schedule for Knight and Day, visual effects directors from two different production houses set up cameras in bull rings to capture the motion of the animals. Unlike actors, these wild creatures wanted nothing to do with motion capture suits! By triangulating cameras on each bull, the artists were able painstakingly record the manner in which each animal moved. They then used this info to produce vignettes of movement that would be animated throughout the chase scene shots.
Heading into the visual design studio, effects artists take these vignettes to start building the motion for the animals. The studio, Rhythm & Hues, then built the bulls from the ground up! Starting literally with the bones of the charging bovine beasts, the artists digitally painted the muscles, fur and, even, mud on the fur. Now that’s detail you can feel!
Combining the previous motion capture with the crafted creatures, the effects artists then overlaid the bulls into the scene in the space allowed in the original shot. The magic comes together in the final print, with color, shadows, shading and a million other details triple-checked and corrected. It’s all part of the effort that went into making Knight and Day the most fun action movie of the summer.
You can catch glimpses of some of these scenes in the international trailer, below:
What did you think of the visual effects in Knight and Day? Which of the scenes were your favorite? Could you even tell the effects were there!? Let us know in the comments section, or by staying in touch through the Twitter and Facebook pages.