VFX Work Of The Film Assassin Creed
Assassin’s Creed is a 2016 American science fiction action adventure film based on the video game franchise of the same name. The film is directed by Justin Kurzel, written by Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, and stars Michael Fassbender (who also produced), Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling and Michael K. Williams. The film is set in the same universe as the video games but features an original story that expands the series’ mythology, taking place during the Spanish Inquisition.
This film based on the popular Ubisoft video game series, well known for its photorealistic computer graphics renderings of different locations in history. But for the recognizable hand-to-hand combat scenes, leaps between buildings, sword fights, and other stunts, the filmmakers wanted a very practical feel.
However, even with the practical approach, visual effects, cg, and animation still played a major role. One seemingly heavy practical stunt, a prison carriage chase involving the assassin Aguilar de Nerha (Michael Fassbender) in the desert that ends with a carriage launching over a cliff, was actually made possible with a mix between real photography, special effects, and digital augmentation by visual effects vendor Cinesite.
The chase was filmed near Almeria in southern Spain. Special effects supervisor Andy Williams oversaw the building of wagons and carriages that could be pulled by horses, as well as various horse paraphernalia and camera and stunt rigging to enable the scene to be filmed. Then, stunt co-coordinator Ben Cooke was responsible for staging the horse stunts, leaps between carriages, and some of the other action beats in the sequence, shot both in the desert and on green screen.
Cinesite came in to assist in heightening what were effectively the four major beats of the chase. The second beat within the wagon chase sees Aguilar jump from on top of a horse onto one of the prison wagons. Here, multiple plates were filmed – a stuntman on horseback riding fast, another where the stunt performer leaps off the horse, and a further take of the performer running and jumping off a trampoline with the signature ‘Assassin’s Creed’ pose.
That cliff asset and the surrounding environment were built in cg, and further enhanced with digital matte painting. The build was so successful that the director encouraged Cinesite to use the environment they had generated to help add any key shots to the whole chase. The role of Cinesite here is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the sequence, and a testament to how visual effects could get involved in the final edit while still retaining the very practical nature of the shots as intended.
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