Framestore enters “The Matrix” | infographic world

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Framestore brought its expertise to The Matrix Resurrectionsthe long-awaited fourth installment of
The matrix trilogy.

Directed by Lana Wachowski, this long-awaited next chapter in the groundbreaking franchise reunites some of the original Matrix cast, along with some new faces. Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss reprise their roles as Neo and Trinity, taking on a new world of challenges in the search for truth and liberation from reality simulation.

Culminating in a climactic third-act action sequence that includes a high-octane motorcycle chase, human torpedoes, and a death-defying helicopter showdown, the Framestore crew were tasked with honoring the style of the first three films, while bringing fantastic new VFX elements to the table in a cohesive blend of live-action stunts and seamless CG art.


“The film’s third act usually hosts the biggest action sequences as the plot reaches its finale,” says VFX supervisor Graham Page. The talented artists at Framestore have pulled out all the stops – digital doubles, stunt work and environmental work – no VFX stone was left unturned to deliver a film as visually impactful as the original trilogy.


Although initially offered 204 shots, the London team at Framestore ultimately delivered 443 shots for the film. “There is a legacy with The matrix that really got people excited, they’re iconic sci-fi/action movies, and everyone wants to say they worked on one – to the point that a lot of artists volunteered to work on one only plan, just to be able to say that they had worked on a
Matrix movie,” says Page.




Revisiting classic effects

“There was a lot of expectation to build on and improve on the visual effects of previous entries in the franchise, known for their groundbreaking digital effects,” says Page. In some cases, Framestore has used modern techniques to reference and reconstruct effects from the original films, such as Neo’s famous shield, first seen in The Matrix Reloaded.


Jonathan Groff’s Agent Smith transformation is reminiscent of previous films starring Hugo Weaving. “The 2D morphing effects have been revamped using modern 3D morphing of digital characters with hair and clothing,” says Page. “In general, the feel of the film was less stylized and more organic and realistic than the originals, which meant more detail was needed in the models, and the work was all done in 4k.”




Leaps and swarms


The matrix The trilogy was known for its dramatic stunts, and so for this latest incarnation, the stakes were already high. The loyal fan base has grown to expect high octane action with visually stunning stunts. “The pressure was on,” Page agrees, “VFX has come a long way since the original
Matrix in 1999, and fans know it, so the bar for great action sequences has been set very high.


In the film’s third act, a swarm of people chases Neo and Trinity as they ride through the streets of San Francisco on motorcycles. This climactic sequence required the addition of a host of up to 100 digital characters in hundreds of shots. Framestore created fully digital humans with simulated clothing, hair, and facial animation, as well as digital doubles for Neo and Trinity for the motorcycle sections that were too dangerous to capture in camera. “The talented Matrix The team tried to do as many stunts as possible in person,” says Page, “but the swarm sequence in particular was too dangerous, so we supplemented with VFX to blend in with the footage taken and create a shot. action-packed finale.


“For security reasons, they hadn’t been able to film any extras near vehicles or the camera, so we knew our extras would be in the foreground and the movement had to be consistent with the extras they already had. filmed,” adds Animation. Supervisor Max Solomon.


“We started by analyzing the footage and creating a detailed list of the actions we were going to need – some were generic, but many were shot specific. Framestore movement in the biggest space of our London studio. We spent two days working on the action list, capturing all the variations we could think of, throwing ourselves like kids into soft play! It was very funny.”




After the motion capture, the animation team had to review each frame of the reference footage and make their selections for cleanup. “We spent about two months with a team of six animators creating a library of performances with classic names like AgitatedBystanders001, ShotOnRoofOfCar002 and MenacingWalk003, tidying up the ground contacts, fixing the joint chain jumps, adding animation of the hands and fingers, solving problems of scale and intersection,” Salomon says. “A lot of the performance was captured with the four stuntmen together, so we could achieve more complex integrated movements and interactions. During this, we painted an animation of the sequence using still images in Photoshop, showing where and how many digital extras would be added to each plan.


Some of the stunts were too dangerous for even motion capture, as the final shots of the swarm sequence called for people in high-rise buildings in San Francisco to rush at Neo and Trinity. “We started by using state-of-the-art physical simulation techniques to match the impacts with the ground,” Solomon explains. “By varying the trajectory and the dive pose, we could achieve different types of impacts. With our extensive library of clips, blocking shots was very quick, but we found that a lot of actions weren’t working. “immediately”, so we started creating shooting-specific animations, often filming new reference sequences ourselves, to anchor the actions in reality.


A key element of the sequences approach was the combination of hands-on filmmaking with digital effects. Real explosions were enhanced with digital debris, and the CG crowd was mixed in with real-world extras and stunt performers. “The work had to be integrated and adapted to real-world photography with smoke, atmosphere, lens flare, practical debris and fire,” Page continues. “Luckily it was shot before COVID, so director Lana Wachowski had time during the first lockdown to edit the big action sequence before production resumed.”

“Neo and Trinity’s final leap of faith from the 44 Montgomery building in San Francisco, as seen in the trailer, was performed as an incredible stunt by the actors, and digital intervention was used with sparingly and carefully,” Page says. “Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne Moss have taken the leap for real several times in a matter of days. Framestore then matched the footage, removed the wires, and stabilized any rig movement, cutting between an actual helicopter and CG. We also replicated the Montgomery building in order to destroy it later in the scene.


In total, Framestore built 26 unique digital characters, 18 vehicles, helicopters and a cat, as well as various environments. Complex effects simulations have been performed to crash cars, destroy and helicopters explode and crash into buildings.



The Matrix Resurrections was produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures and Venus Castina Productions.

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