fxguide looks at five shots and sequences from Ridley Scott’s biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings. Visual effects for the film were overseen by Double Negative’s Peter Chiang.

1. Making Memphis

Production filmed in Spain, Mexico and on sets in Pinewood for the film’s scenes in Egypt, which were then heavily augmented by Double Negative and other facilities with digital city builds, crowds and set extensions. Dneg's in-house vfx supe on the show was Charlie Noble.

Original plate.
Original plate.
Final shot.
Final shot.
2. Hail storm hits

Lighting, hail and rain hits Pi-Rameses in another of the ten plagues to affect Eygpt. Here, Double Negative crafted matte paintings for the storm supercells, augmented in NUKE. Then the rain and hail were sim’d in Houdini.

Original plate.
Original plate.
Final shot.
Final shot.
3. Plague of frogs

Double Negative created swarms of frogs for this sequence, along with set extensions and digi-doubles as the amphibians take over Pi-Rameses. The plagues were realized in Houdini, while standalone shots matched CG frogs to live action ‘stuntie’ ones.

Original plate.
Original plate.
Final shot.
Final shot.
4. Anthrax outcome

Among many other shots, Method Studios in London under the supervision of Simon Car crafted views of the outcome of an anthrax outbreak which has killed thousands of farm animals. In one shot the camera rises up past a foreground fence made of brushwood to reveal a landscape littered with dead carcasses and people walking around trying to pick them up and put them on pyres. Method replaced the fence entirely, since CG elements needed to be viewed through it - it was also in stereo - and then replaced much of the shot, re-projecting the landscape and animals.

Original plate.
Original plate.
Final shot.
Final shot.

Also, watch Method Studios' breakdown of this and other shots from the film:

Watch Method's making of for Exodus.

5. The Red Sea

The iconic ‘parting’ of the Red Sea involved meticulous planning, several location shoots and extensive previs, postvis and vfx work by The Third Floor, MPC and Scanline. The Third Floor, under previs supervisor Albert Cheng, took location data and photography and crafted an environment, then developed its own crowd tools for the 400,00 fleeing Hebrews and the Eypgtians, horses and chariots. The Red Sea wave was previs’d with a hand-animated wave.

The Third Floor postvis.
The Third Floor postvis.

MPC was responsible for much of the Red Sea visual effects sequence under visual effects supervisor Jessica Norman, with Scanline VFX also sharing shots, supervised by Stephan Trojansky. The work included significant sky, storm, tornado and environment detailing that would have to be placed behind thousands of people and horses. MPC used a wave animation rig to get the gross movement of the sea - in more of tsunami style than the classic parting look - and then used Flowline and additional fx and DMP to devise the final shots. Crowds were realized with their proprietary tools ALICE and PAPI.

Original plate.
Original plate.
Final shot.
Final shot.

All images © 2014 20th Century Fox.


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