As Hamletsen points out, director Lana Wachowski wanted to draw on the nostalgia of The Matrix, referencing the visual effects of the original film while putting them into a new context.
The warehouse sequence at Trinity’s studio involved most of the studio’s work on Resurrections. It’s a long and pivotal scene comprising 126 shots, with Neo, Trinity and the Analyst – who can control time and make a person move in slow motion while still moving at whatever speed they want.
As the footage progresses, a bullet is fired and, in slow motion, is aimed at Tiffany’s (Trinity) head. Neo slowly tries to reach out to stop and save her, while the analyst can control time and move faster. He places an apple in the bullet’s path, which shatters into pieces when the bullet pierces it – referencing both Matrix bullet time and Harold Edgerton’s famous photograph. Early plans were to shoot this sequence underwater, to make the slow motion more laborious and dreamlike, says Tom Debenham, director of One of Us and additional VFX supervisor on the production side.
“However, practical considerations prevailed and the decision was made to film Neo, Trinity and the Analyst in the same setting… but at different frame rates,” he adds.
Still, putting different plates together at different times was a complicated process, according to Donnelly. The studio filmed with an old-school technique, with two cameras lined up in a stereo rig. One was filming in slow motion and the other was filming at a faster frame rate. Many more were shot using a single camera each time with different elements at different speeds.
“One shot that I personally worked on with Adam Azmy was when Tiffany’s head collapses in code. That’s the opening shot of the warehouse sequence, and it took One of Us about six months and dozens of releases,” says Hamletsen.
Some of the toughest jobs, however, are also the least visible. As Hamletsen points out, Neo is hanging from wires and he’s running in slow motion, but his coat and hair aren’t actually moving, they’re just hanging, breaking the illusion that he’s running. As a result, One of Us replaced his coat and performed a full hair replacement to make his hair and coat tell the tale.
Red Pill Effects
Of course, reality takes a sudden turn in the Matrix world when the red pill is introduced. In this latest film, he once again opened Neo’s eyes to what is real and what is virtual. It also has an effect when the new Morpheus picks it up. One of us created visual effects to show the effects of taking the pill in two particular scenes.
“The first one happens right after Bugs gives Morpheus the pill and it looks like something out of the first Matrix, but we called it the ‘backdoor hallway’. It’s basically this white space with multiple doors , and Morpheus and Bugs come out of that room and there’s a distortion of some kaleidoscopic imagery,” Debenham explains. In another sequence, the pair are chased down a street, and they walk through a trapdoor into an upside-down world, then they walk out of the hallway and back into the street.
“We used the multi-camera technique on both sequences – you pick the angle you want to create that kind of blurry effect, and then we used various techniques and compositing tricks on top of that,” says Landymore. “The really tricky thing in the sequence was the wall coming out. We had to model the whole hallway – from a real hallway – and then lay it on top and start moving and breaking things. We started to make it look crazy and over the top, but that was too much; we had to make sure the effect wasn’t over the top. We also introduced the little lines of the Matrix code behind the walls. The director was very interested in hidden and not too obvious. You want the viewer to wonder, “Is that what I saw?”
For most of the synthesis work, One of Us used Houdini from SideFX, Nuke from Foundry, and Maya from Autodesk.