At IBC 2014, BlackMagic Design announced the acquisition of Eyeon Software and thus Fusion. While Fusion has been used on films for some years, the move signalled a few major changes. Stephen Roberts who had been setting the agenda now inherited the laser like focus of BlackMagic Design founder and worldwide CEO Grant Petty. Known for his killer business instincts and ability to build businesses. Petty surprised many when he bought Eyeon, but then few things BMD set their focus on fail to transform and then grow.
Under the new approach Fusion has decided to run its own race and much like BMD has done with other products such as DaVinci Resolve, Fusion 8 aims to carve out its own path. No longer defining itself in terms of After Effects (AE) or NUKE, the team has moved forward with a focus on GPU and networked rendering. Fusion 8 runs on Mac OSX and the Studio version will also run on Linux. The non-studio version is free to download and as such fxguide has been keen to see if the new version or the new marketing approach will lead to wider adoption of the product in the entertainment space. After all, Fusion is not aimed at wide adoption of single users as much as say AE, but then it lacks the user depth of NUKE which virtually owns the high end compositing space.
This month saw Fusion adopted as one of the key tools at Intelligent Creatures for their work in London Has Fallen. Intelligent Creatures is located in Toronto, Canada, and was founded in September 2002 by current CEO Lon Molnar, along with Michael Hatton, Raymond Gieringer, and Wendy Lanning. At the time there was a real lack of visual effects companies in Canada, there were some such as SPIN VFX, but remarkably few compared to today’s vast spread of subsidiaries promoted by generous tax concessions. Intelligent Creatures do both television and feature film work – we’ve previously covered their great work on Orphan Black.
Now it’s London’s turn…
London Has Fallen is the follow-up film to Olympus Has Fallen, and sees the U.S. President’s top Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) again have to fight his away against a group of terrorists. In the film, directed by Babak Najafi, the President (Aaron Eckhart) has joined several world leaders in London for the funeral of the British Prime Minister. But terrorists stage an elaborate plot to assassinate many of these dignitaries around the city, including the President.
One of the most daring sequences in the film is an attempted aerial escape by the U.S. President and his two security advisors aboard the helicopter Marine One over the city of London. Flanked by two other helicopters, they are fired upon and end up crash landing. It’s a riveting moment in the film and one that was made possible by visual effects studio Intelligent Creatures, one of several houses that worked on the film including Worldwide FX, BaseBlack, Peerless and The Senate.
For the chopper scene, Intelligent Creatures took advantage of Blackmagic Design’s Fusion Studio and a Blackmagic Cinema Camera to acquire plates for the sequence, which were then posted in DaVinci Resolve Studio.
“Working on the helicopter sequences was interesting because there was a bunch of different elements at play,” said IC compositing supervisor Eric Dorion in a release. “Some shots were actually filmed in the helicopters, some with partial green screens, and others were full CG. Using Fusion Studio’s compositing abilities and projection mapping, we were able blend the worlds of the practical and visual effects.”
The sequence concludes when Marine One does take a hit and crash lands in Hyde Park after smashing through a building. Intelligent Creatures handled the compositing in Fusion.
“It started on a green screen but gradually became all CG,” stated Dorion. “It took months to accomplish but Fusion Studio’s speed is remarkable that it really helped us speed up what would have been a much longer process. The software’s node-based architecture helped us to manage hundreds of elements and make many revisions without getting backed into a corner.”
For additional views of the streets below the helicopter action, members of the Intelligent Creatures team relied on a Blackmagic Cinema Camera to shoot VFX plates, ingesting them via DaVinci Resolve Studio.
“For some of the most intensive sequences, we needed helicopters to fly low right over major London streets, which would never go through practical effects due to safety issues,” noted Intelligent Creatures visual effects supervisor Geoff D. E. Scott. “We went rooftop to rooftop with a Cinema Camera and took footage to create the VFX plates, so that everything would be authentic to the city.”