VR once again proves its worth to Hollywood filmmakers.
In a new video released by Epic Games earlier this week, the company revealed how one of the most complex fight scenes featured in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum was designed and choreographed with the help of VR technology.
For those who still haven’t seen the latest John Wick film, the climactic final battle, in which John takes on arguably two of the toughest opponents he’s ever faced, takes place in a jaw-dropping 3-story building comprised entirely of glass. The interior of the structure, a twisted maze of glass walls and exhibits, made for one of the franchises most visually-impressive fight scenes, as the trio of warriors mercilessly tossed one another through pane after pane of glass.
To plan these insanely complex shots, concept illustrator Alex Nice turned to VR technology to help build a digital 3D replica of the enormous facility. Developed using Epic Games’ UE4 game engine, the VR environment allowed everyone from the actors to the art department to the director to better visualize the scene and plan the complex action sequences. The cinematographer, for example, could go in and adjust lighting and camera placement; meanwhile, the stunt coordinator could immerse himself in the environment to begin planning fight choreography.
“It became this tool that allowed us to visualize what the set looked like and also helped us to create the lighting and the design of this thing,” states Nice in the video. “Months and months before any decisions had to be made on the physical setting it was such an abstract set that having this kind of spatial relationship and visualizing it from that point of view had tons of value.”
“When you first walk on to the physical set it’s a surreal experience. It was amazingly accurate. VR has this kind of ability to cross the 2D concept art threshold and set design threshold and give you a real feeling of what it’s going to be like to be there which is just an incredible disruption in this industry.”
“I can’t imagine them doing this set without VR.”
Earlier this year, Jon Favreau, director of Disney’s recent Lion King remake, revealed how he used VR technology to help design the photo-realistic environments featured throughout the film. Using a proprietary VR renderer developed by Disney, Favreau and his team were able to design 3D models of Pride Rock, Rafiki’s Ancient Tree, and other notable locations from the movie.
“By removing the one physical element of Mowgli, we were no longer tethered to the fact that we had to have blue screen or an actual set or real cameras, so everything became virtual at that point, states Favreau during an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
“Once that gave us the freedom to operate without actually having to move through physical photography, it allowed us to open ourselves up to a whole new approach, and that’s why it feels different than Jungle Book. We’ve basically built a multiplayer VR filmmaking game just for the purposes of making this movie.”
Feature Image Credit: Lionsgate