Visual effects can be subtle or they can be heart-stopping. In the feature Skyscraper, they are the latter.
From Legendary Entertainment, Universal Pictures, and director Rawson Marshall Thurber, Skyscraper stars Dwayne Johnson as Will Sawyer, a security consultant who must save his family and clear his name as The Pearl, the world’s tallest – and supposedly safest – building comes under attack. Method Studios served as a VFX vendor helping to craft some of the most memorable sequences, including Sawyer’s supercrane climb and epic leap to The Pearl at 100 stories up.
Led by Method VFX Supervisor Jason Billington, the pulse-pounding sequence required extensive research and photoreal asset creation. Model supervisor Graham Olsen started by visiting a crane supplier to capture reference photography of various parts, textures, and joints. The Method team then designed and built 3D models for both the supercrane and adjacent building, as well as crafted full CG environments of the surrounding Hong Kong skyline. In addition to shot-specific visual effects, Method also incorporated environmental effects such as ember, smoke, and heat haze throughout, further building on proprietary workflow tools originally developed on 2016’s Deepwater Horizon, for which Billington earned a Best VFX Academy Award nomination.
“The crane climb sequence was essential because it drives the plot forward as Sawyer gets closer to reuniting with his family, so it was important that the action felt believable to carry that emotional tension,” explained Billington. “Though the film presents many extraordinary circumstances, we were careful to make sure the action felt authentic – and of course Dwayne Johnson’s charisma helps.”
Method also handled the sequence where Sawyer smashes through a glass window 200 stories up in order to climb down the exterior of The Pearl to access a crucial control panel. They also helped create the scene where a helicopter crashes and explodes inside The Pearl’s helipad hangar. In addition to major action sequences, Method crafted Sawyer’s CG prosthetic leg seen throughout the film, based on an asset developed by ILM.
Method’s sister company, Stereo D, handled the film’s 3D conversion.