CG and AI in George Miller's latest 'Mad Max' film

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Thanks to photorealistic technological advances, George Miller developed his approach to VFX on the “Mad Max” franchise nine years after “Fury Road.” That's why he was more comfortable using CG in post on “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.” Its thrilling stunt-driven chase sequences were shot in-camera with maximum practical effects, but CG enabled it to have more dynamic energy, enhancing its stylized world-building.

Back from “Fury Road” was DNEG's VFX supervisor Andrew Jackson, who was eager to play with a bigger digital toolbox. Not only did it capture more realistic fire, water, dust and smoke, but it also allowed the VFX team to expand the desert landscapes and skies of the Wasteland and embellish the environments of the newly created Gastown and Bullettown. In addition, they were able to modify or enhance popular vehicles (especially the multitude of motorcycles) for action set pieces.

“George has completely embraced the idea that CG is the way to create a world and do whatever we need to do in post,” Jackson told IndieWire. “Give [2,000] The bullet count on 'Fury Road' was huge [twice the number on ‘Furiosa’]. But the majority of the shots for the main action were practical, based on practical locations, and it was the background, it was the support, it was to enlarge and magnify the size of the rocks or to narrow the valley. But the poisonous storm [a CG simulation] was not present.

“And then 'Furiosa' is obviously the opposite end of the scale,” he continued, “where there are still some pretty impressive live-action stunts and [special] effects, but really it leans heavily on the visual effects of the board, both in the environment and the foreground process.

'Furiosa'Photo courtesy of Warner Bros

Jackson described Miller's process as creating an animated film using live-action components, shot at 48 frames per second, which would have made it easier to speed up or slow down the action. Is. That's not surprising when you consider the joy it gave the director in making the animated “Happy Feet.” Jackson added that “his approach is very much about building the film in post-production. “He's very concerned about where the audience is looking. For the most important thing in this shot is this clarity of vision.

“He's cutting out bits of one shot and putting them in another, retiming and putting everything exactly where he wants it in the frame,” Jackson said. “It just so happens that so much of the material is filmed in components. No one has ever seen a movie with so many retakes and so many adjustments to each shot.

Jackson oversaw the work of DNEG, Framestore, Rising Sun Pictures, and Metaphysics (which used AI to artificially portray the “Fury Road” Bullet Farmer played by the late Richard Carter). But he didn't join the production until post, when Miller started putting it together like an intricate puzzle. Jackson's main task was to fill in the gaps and give the action a greater sense of dynamic movement.

That bravura was never more evident than in the 15-minute “Stowaway to Nowhere” sequence, where the invaders attack a war rig piloted by Praetorian Jake (Tom Burke) and Furiosa (Anya Taylor-Joy). It was led by action designer Guy Norris, who planned it with Miller using his Proxy Virtual Production System (also known as Toybox). This extensive preview tool, which uses Unreal Engine performance capture and real-time rendering, enabled them to plan 197 shots of the sequence, which took place at Fox studios in New South Wales, Australia, and Sydney. Filmed on 78 separate days.

'Furiosa'Jason Boland

Cameras were mounted on vehicles traveling continuously up and down the 2.5-mile stretch of road, involving stunt car drivers, motorcyclists, and explosives experts. However, given the frequency of high-profile motorcycle crashes, they used rigging and mo-cap suits for safety, superimposing body movement data from 3D avatars onto real stunt drivers.

“The biggest thing we had to do on this sequence was create a sense of movement,” Jackson said. “Because a lot of the components that were filmed weren't moving in a way that felt real. So we were kind of sliding things around, and when some components were a little off, we replaced them with CG. were doing to create more movement.”

In some instances, the VFX team had to add harpoons and open parachutes that attack the war rig. Jackson added that “pretty much all the flying stuff was CG, except for the pilots or the people where they were filmed for it.”

When it came to world building, most of the focus was on Gastown and Bullet Farm. In the tradition of “Mad Max,” Gastown sits on a flat plain surrounding an abandoned oil refinery. “The set they had for that had a pretty elaborate foreground construction,” Jackson said. “The doors they go through and the front row of tanks and the structure and a little fence. So we were adding to it and then filling up all the oil refineries behind it. It was one of my favorite places. I really liked the look of it. It was very stormy and over the top. The idea was that there was some sort of local climate system hanging over this toxic oil refinery with dark clouds and refinery flames.

'Furiosa'Photo courtesy of Warner Bros

Bullet Farm, meanwhile, is a refurbished munitions factory that sits in a large sunken mine, with a dirt road that skirts the walls and leads into the central basin. This fuels the fortress war effort against the hordes roaming the Wasteland. “It was a gravel site where they were able to bulldoze some form on the ground and build the main entrance and some of the surrounding walls,” Jackson continued. “They had a foreground component of the shoot and then all the backgrounds, and we added the main gate. I really liked the Furiosa sniper rifle sequence. It's all quite stylized and almost like caricatured action, like from she descends and is crushed by a falling chimney, and then throws a grappling hook, and [Jack] grabs her and she slips.”

CG was also required for some sophisticated facial animation, given that two actresses played Furiosa — Alyla Browne as a child and teenager and Taylor-Joy as an adult. This involved seamlessly matching Taylor Joy's eyes with Browne's using AI. It was handled by Rising Sun Pictures using machine learning software. “We wanted to make Ella's eye shape more similar to how Anya was at that age,” Jackson said. “We changed a patch of her face depending on the shot. In some of the close-up stuff, there's a fairly significant element that's edited out. We also edited Ella's look to age her a bit towards the end. .

In contrast, the first few times we see Taylor-Joy, her eyes appear a bit more brown to smooth the transition. Jackson found the process efficient because the software compiles and analyzes both sets of eyes (using footage from their previous performances) and then delivers the desired result, one set to the other. Replaced by

“It's more than just shape and color, it's the whole performance,” he said. “But it has to fit, this mix between [the two] Faces This is just a new tool that is more effective in capturing performance and minute expressions than traditional CG face transformation techniques.

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