Work to Howl About
August 27, 2013

Work to Howl About

MELBOURNE AND SYDNEY — Produced by 20th Century Fox and directed by James Mangold, The Wolverine was filmed in Australia, The Wolverine also undertook a significant portion of its VFX down under.

Fox Studios called in VFX talent Iloura (Melbourne) and Method Studios (Sydney) to help demonstrate Logan's (Wolverine's) incredible strength and his ability to heal, as well as promoting the intricate architecture of Japan.

Both VFX studios had the pleasure of working with VFX Supervisor and Academy Award nominee Philip Brennan; Iloura was also able to work again with VFX Producer Jamie Stevenson.

The Iloura crew, led by VFX Supervisor Glenn Melenhorst, completed just over 100 shots for the film, including a sequence that featured a futuristic medical "Pin Bed" made up of steel pins that follow the contours and movements of the patient's body. Melenhorst, says: "The bed was a 3D animated object that posed several complex challenges due to the meticulous integration detail required with the actor across more than 60 shots."

Iloura also helped bring life to a tiny robotic medical beetle. The crew modeled, rigged and animated the 3D beetle based on production artwork and gave it an aggressive personality. Despite its diminutive size it threatens Logan in one highly memorable sequence.

One particular challenge for the team involved complex body tracking, rotomotion and FX in order to see Logan healing from severe total upper body and facial burns. The shots included full hair regrowth as Logan's healing powers are shown to their full effect before the audience's eyes.

Wolverines extended claws

Method Studios completed 122 shots for the feature, divided into five sequences that included shots of metal claws, Tokyo apartments, and Alaskan and Japanese streetscapes. The scope of work relied heavily on 3D compositing and matte painting, using projected backgrounds, point-clouds and image-based modeling to bring the immersive environments to life.

The Sydney studio created a digital version of Shinjuku station platform, made views of Tokyo from Noburo's penthouse, Tokyo downtown, as well as a large number of shots of the Yukon; most of which were set extensions or environment shots. "The Tokyo sequences were particularly challenging as the original shoot elements and references source were shot on public streets," said Method VFX Supervisor James Rogers, "While they looked busy, it was a challenge to make the action work for the purposes of the film, especially in terms of continuity. We used a lot of techniques to patch the backgrounds together, in addition to perspective tricks to make them work for the studio-shot foregrounds".

Lady deathstrike

Both the Iloura and Method teams relished the opportunity to work on the project; Simon Rosenthal, Deluxe Head of VFX, Asia Pacific said: "The project provided a great opportunity for us to showcase the diverse skills within the Australian businesses and further reinforced our position as high-end facilities."

The Wolverine stars co-Producer Hugh Jackman ( Movie 43, Les Miserables) and Famke Janssen ( Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Taken 2).

Set in Japan, the story centers on Wolverine's fight for survival as he battles his own immortality. Although technically shadowing the third-released film X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), The Wolverine very much stands alone in its own right.

Australia continues to be a premier production location; increasingly US studios are coming out to shoot Hollywood blockbusters and make use of the first-class post-production services.

Iloura and Method Studios are divisions of Deluxe Entertainment Services Group Inc, the studios' recent collective credits include; The Wolverine, I, Frankenstein, The Great Gatsby. Iloura's additional credits include; After Earth, Emperor and Ted, and Method Studios Australia's credits include; The Railway Man, Argo and The Sapphires.

Image credit: Images ©2013 20th CENTURY FOX.