DEFINITION September 2022 - Web



T rains have been a movie staple for almost a century, but it’s a widely held belief that the first rail-based film is also the best. The General , starring Buster Keaton, was a silent triumph, entertaining and amazing audiences in equal measure on its release in 1926. Bullet Train , which pulled into theatres in early August, aims to delight and impress in much the same vein as Keaton’s 96-year-old masterpiece. Under the direction of David Leitch ( John Wick , Atomic Blonde , Deadpool 2 ) and featuring an ensemble cast including Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Hiroyuki Sanada and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, it tells the story of assassin Ladybug (Pitt) boarding a train from Tokyo to Kyoto, with the seemingly simple mission of recovering a briefcase. Unbeknown to him, four

other assassins are also aboard, with the same mission. While the cast and script deliver the amusement, the amazement is taken care of by the film’s incredible VFX, all handled by an 850-strong team at DNEG. “It was VFX-heavy,” confirms DNEG’s VFX producer Saado Abou- Khazaal. “Including the shoot with LEDs, production lasted 14 months. “We were involved right from pre- production, looking at scripts and basing workload off that. David’s vision was to create a fun action movie going from Tokyo to Kyoto, making sure the environments looked great and – once we got to the climactic sequences – hitting all the right beats to make it look as photorealistic as possible. The film has a bold, colourful and hyperrealistic style, so the VFX had

RACING ALONG The post-production pipeline for Bullet Train was an enormous undertaking, involving hundreds of DNEG staff working for well over a year to produce the finished product – I think we can all agree the hard work paid off to be an extension of that,” adds VFX supervisor Stephen James. “Each station or environment was considered a kind of ‘postcard’, with all the iconic elements you would expect: unique landscapes and lighting. We had the flexibility to adapt these throughout post-production.” ALL UNDER ONE ROOF VFX work is often shared between multiple providers, but the whole flow for Bullet Train was handled by DNEG, which helped streamline processes. “Although it can be a considerable challenge to schedule and organise this amount of

65. SEPTEMBER 2022

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