July 30, 2007

Digital Dimension Produces Explosive Effects for Live Free or Die Hard

Burbank, Calif. - Digital Dimension has completed nearly 200 visual effects shots—including a number of the movie’s most action-packed sequences—for the Twentieth Century-Fox release Live Free or Die Hard
Directed by Len Wiseman, the film is the fourth installment of the Die Hard franchise starring Bruce Willis as tough cop John McClane. 
Digital Dimension was awarded standout sequences, such as the spectacular destruction of a helicopter by a police car in mid-air and an elaborate car crash in a darkened tunnel, as well as a wave of blackouts, fender-benders, and evacuations of government buildings. Live Free or Die Hard hit theaters June 27, 2007.  
“With each sequel in the Die Hard series, the filmmakers have upped the ante on the action, so we needed the absolute best visual effects teams for Live Free or Die Hard,” says Patrick McClung, visual effects supervisor on Live Free or Die Hard.  “We chose Digital Dimension because of its reputation offering boutique VFX attention while rivaling the work delivered by the huge studios.”  
In Live Free or Die Hard, McClane (Willis) is called in to action when a group of cyber-terrorists led by Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) take over the computer grid supporting the entire country’s infrastructure including the economic, governmental and other computer systems running the country. When McClane foils their plans, McClane’s daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is kidnapped. With help from a young hacker named Matt Farrell (Justin Long), McClane must use hits wits and brawn to save the country and the people he loves from disaster, yet again.  
Digital Dimension’s 2D and 3D teams worked on several pivotal action scenes, including two signature shots featured prominently in the film’s trailer. One involved McClane and Farrell narrowly avoiding being crushed when a car bounces off two other vehicles just over their heads. Digital Dimension composited the actors into footage of a practical car crash, adding CG glass and interactive lighting for added realism. 
In another, McClane launches his cop car up a ramp to destroy a helicopter. The shot involved combining plates of a stunt man jumping out of a helicopter with McClane’s cop car plowing through the chopper, and creating CG rotor blades and a tail rotor that both split into a thousand pieces upon impact with the police car.    
Other scenes on which Digital Dimension worked included building a 250-foot digital tunnel extension in Autodesk’s 3ds Max to make an underpass look like a mile-long freeway during a harrowing car chase and crash, adding CG rubble to a pivotal explosion. The company also used the artificial intelligence-driven Massive software to create 1000 digital people to match groups of extras that appear in live action shots spilling out from the U.S. Capitol Building and Treasury. Digital Dimension also did extensive rig and stuntman removal and added CG cars, smoke effects, and Washington DC-style background plates to the movie, which was partially shot in Los Angeles.  
The company used a software tool kit including Autodesk 3ds Max, Autodesk Maya, and Massive Software’s Massive.