If you’ve been wondering how scenes like the 15-minute freeway car chase/kung fu battle in the The Matrix Reloaded are executed, much less dreamed up, the answer lies in very careful planning and a lot of help from 3D animation. Pixel Liberation Front (PLF) provided pre-production and on-set pre-visualization services for the blockbuster second installment in the Wachowski Brothers’ revolutionary film trilogy from Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures.
The 3D animatics produced by PLF provided visual representations of the action and mapped out in detail everything from camera placement to stunt car speeds. Writers/directors Larry and Andy Wachowski and visual effects supervisor John Gaeta relied heavily on these digital blueprints in designing the look and timing of Reloaded‘s much touted, breathtaking action sequences.
PLF was involved in the project over the course of two years, working both on set and from the offices of the Wachowskis’ production shingle, Eon Ent. Pre-visualized materials were used on set to communicate the requirements, parameters or desired “flow” of the action to other collaborators, including stunt performers, technical coordinators, camera operators and set personnel. According to PLF, the company’s work on Reloaded represents the most comprehensive application of the pre-viz process on a film project to date.
“The pre-viz contributed by PLF helped us make creative choices and solve many of the unique challenges on this film,” says senior visual effects supervisor and Academy Award-winner John Gaeta. “Very detailed comic book-quality storyboards had been created for virtually every scene of the movie, and we needed to take these to the next level in planning many of the camera moves and scenarios we had envisioned.”
For each sequence, PLF created accurate, to-scale digital models of all of the elements, including the set/location, characters, key props and set dressing, as well as virtual cameras. This allowed the action, timing and camera position of the scene to be refined with immediately viewable results. PLF also incorporated other elements relevant to the physical production, such as positions of various vehicles, necessary vehicle paths and even the required size for the camera lens.
PLF also completed extensive pre-visualization for the third film in the trilogy, The Matrix Revolutions, which will be released in November 2003 by Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures.
PLF credits for The Matrix Reloaded include: pre-visualization supervisor Colin Green; pre-visualization lead artists Laurent Lavigne and Kyle Robinson; pre-visualization artists Derek Fisher, Raul Moreno, Robb Nunn, Ben Procter, Rpin Suwwanath, Alex Vegh and PeiPei Yuan; and pre-visualization coordinators Duncan Burbridge and Sean Cushing.