Framestore adds digital drama to ‘The King’s Man’


In Matthew Vaughn’s World War I-based prequel to the hugely popular Kingsman movies,
The king’s man gives us the long-awaited origin story of the intelligence agency, as a collection of history’s worst tyrants and criminal masterminds come together to plan a war to wipe out millions, and one man must run against the clock to stop them.

Led by Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Chris Lawrence, who previously worked with the filmmakers on Kingsman: The Golden Circlethe team at Framestore brought perfect visual effects to the action-packed spy film, which stars Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton and Harris Dickinson.

the Kingsman the films are renowned for their distinct over-the-top action sequences and comedic timing, and this was no exception. During filming there was a desire to film as practically as possible, capturing the action behind closed doors with the use of blue screens and green screens.

“It was very stunt-driven,” says Lawrence, who was on set for the UK shoot. “Stunt director Brad Allen, who trained with Jackie Chan, opted for a physical production strategy with minimal sets, knowing they would be augmented with VFX.” This is where Framestore came in.

Famous for creating seamless unseen environments, Framestore received reference material from filming to help them create digital worlds in which filmmakers could base their action. A helicopter shoot in the French Alps provided the artists with a tremendous amount of photogrammetry to use as they constructed the Baltic mountain landscape into pristine CG, while adding their own creative flair.

One example, the Lair of the Flock environment, was loosely based on a particular mountain, but for the sake of the story the team needed to make it more imposing on its background and add some snow to it – lots of snow. . “It’s a complete digital environment and it was quite an undertaking,” says Lawrence. “It was about 1 km tall and sometimes you had to see it within a millimeter, a pixel, which was a challenge for our asset builders,” says Lawrence.

the Kingsman the films are also full of unforgettable characters, and when the team learned that the story required goats, which had to be directed and interacted with the actors, they realized that they would have to be digitally constructed. VFX Supervisor Chris Eckardt, of Framestore’s LA studio, assembled a small production team to capture footage of a Markhor goat with an Alexa camera at the LA Zoo. The team used footage of the goat in the pen to animate over it, then create a rendered version of the animal.

“We wanted them to look completely photorealistic,” says Lawrence. “When we showed this to Matthew Vaughn and said, ‘Hey, look, that’s our goat! and he asked: ‘Which goat?’ they then trusted us completely.

A close-up of the main character, the Duke of Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) as he spins through the air, struggling to grab his parachute, required a digital double to blend seamlessly with the live footage of Fiennes. A shoot using 4D Max’s full body capture technology, combined with a motion capture session, gave the animators a good base to work from before animating the eyes and mouth to match Fiennes’ original performance.

“Apparently they showed Ralph the finished shot and he said he didn’t remember shooting it!” adds Lawrence. “That was a huge compliment.”

A team of over 250 Framestore artists produced 349 shots for The king’s manwhich was released worldwide in late 2021.

The king’s man is based on the comic book “The Secret Service” by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons.


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