April 19, 2023 | Issue 3210
On April 15, the event "The Wandering Earth 2" Movie Visual Effects 丨 Dialogue" hosted by One Scene Space was held in Beijing, and the organizers invited Zhao Haoqiang, vice president of MOREVFX production, to communicate.
MOREVFX is a leading visual effects company in China, and their projects include the "The Wandering Earth" series, as well as "Alone on the Moon", "Assassination of a Novelist" and many other visual effects blockbusters.
Zhao Haoqiang is the visual effects supervisor of "The Wandering Earth 2", and he also participated in the visual effects production of the first film before. At the event, he explained in detail the upgrade of visual effects production of "The Wandering Earth 2", and pointed out that more than 100 changes were made before the film was launched for streaming.
The culmination of disaster visual effects
On the first day of the Chinese New Year in 2019, the sci-fi film "The Wandering Earth" was released, with more than 2,000 special effects shots in the film, constructing an extremely cold earth covered in ice and snow, and at the same time a brilliant and deep space space. Such a magnificent special effects scene is a level that has not been reached by domestic films before.
Four years have passed, computer special effects technology has been updated, and the audience's taste is more demanding, and "The Wandering Earth 2" must be upgraded in all directions. The second part has more than 3,000 special effects shots, and the shooting also uses virtual shooting, facial effects and other technologies that were not available in the first film.
The production process of "The Wandering Earth 2" is in the midst of the epidemic, and when it was released on the first day of the new year, it was the first Spring Festival after the relaxation of epidemic prevention and control measures. The film's mainland box office revenue was 4 billion yuan, with more than 79.3 million viewers, realizing the expectation of allowing audiences to return to theaters.
Zhao Haoqiang said that when MOREVFX participated in the production of "The Wandering Earth", he was responsible for more than 800 visual effects shots in the film, mainly focusing on the planetary engine.
"The Wandering Earth 2", MOREVFX is responsible for more than 3,000 visual effects shots throughout the film. Among these shots, MOREVFX is part of the full-process production, part of which is involved in part of the production, and also controls the visual effects of the cooperative team. MOREVFX WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE OVERALL MANAGEMENT OF THE VISUAL EFFECTS, AND THEY HAD TO ADJUST THE VISUAL EFFECTS OF ALL TEAMS TO A UNIFIED STYLE.
"The Wandering Earth 2" looks at 30% more visual effects shots than the first one, but the difficulty is several times greater. Zhao Haoqiang gave an example that the planetary engine in the second part is far more detailed than the first. When the camera closes in, the large parts and small parts of the engine are clearly visible, which is a technical level that could not be achieved in the first film.
The special effects scenes of the first part mainly focus on the icy surface of the earth and the space station where Liu Peiqiang (played by Wu Jing) is located. The number of scenes in the second film doubled, and the earth was a near-future state of life, which required the art and visual effects departments to deal with the relationship between reality and futurism. The scene involves the future city appearance of different countries on Earth, as well as space stations, moon bases, lunar engines, etc., and the complexity is beyond imagination.
Zhao Haoqiang pointed out that there are various types of disaster scenes in "The Wandering Earth 2". For example, the space station fell shortly after the opening, and then there was the tsunami disaster on Earth. In addition, it is also very difficult for the lunar surface to encounter solar storms, nuclear explosions and other scenes. The film covers representative disaster scenes, and the difficulty of production can be imagined.
Virtual filming previews the entire film in advance
Zhao Haoqiang's first task after joining the group was to split the visual effects content of the whole film and hand it over to different visual effects teams. Some of these teams have cooperated, and some have been invited to join after negotiation. MOREVFX USED THE TEAM'S PREVIOUS WORK TO ANALYZE WHETHER THEY WERE COMPETENT AND WHICH PART OF THE VFX WAS SUITABLE.
In the end, 67 visual effects teams and more than 2,300 people participated in the visual effects production of The Wandering Earth 2. It can be seen that the visual effects production of the film is a huge and complicated project.
"The Wandering Earth 2" also has a visual effects team from abroad behind the scenes, and cultural differences are inevitable. Zhao Haoqiang recalled that the city sky rendered by the Russian team's special effects looked like an oil painting, and the color tone of the Chinese team was always inconsistent.
Later, one of Mr. Zhao's colleagues brought out a photograph he had taken in Moscow, where the sky was painted in shade. The two countries are located at different latitudes and have different natural environments. These differences require Zhao Haoqiang and his team to coordinate and control, and the final effect must be on one dimension.
Four months before the official start of filming, "The Wandering Earth 2" added a virtual shooting and dynamic preview work, which is also one of the important tasks that Zhao Haoqiang and MOREVFX are responsible for.
The term "virtual shooting" here refers to a stuntman wearing a motion capture coat to complete a performance in the studio. In the script, they may be in the building, on the seashore, and their performance is instantly entered into the computer, synthesized from real environmental data stored in the computer program, and finally presented in the form of dynamic previews.
Virtual shooting is like a visual script, providing the most intuitive visual reference for the director, starring and other main creators. "The Wandering Earth 2" has completed a 150-minute preview film before the official start.
According to the effect of the preview film, the director can further improve and adjust the proportion of the scenery and the size of the space in the visual effects. The leading actor can clearly know the direction of the performance, and no longer imagine the disaster scene to perform.
In the film, in addition to being responsible for complex scenes and grand scenes, the visual effects department also has to complete the role creation of robot door frames and robot dogs. The artificial intelligence MOSS in the first part mainly relies on sound performances, and the jambs and stupid in the second part have a series of performances such as sound, action, and emotion, and they are anthropomorphic characters that impress the audience.
Zhao Haoqiang said that the action design of the door frame refers to ostriches, and they will have a sense of animal walking coordination when they move. The role of stupid is more complicated, it is like a real puppy, and it will have a scared reaction. The clumsy styling design has been changed in countless versions, and the visual effects department refers to the movements and emotions of real dogs to achieve realistic results.
Make 100 more changes before the website goes live
The time span of the main plot of "The Wandering Earth 2" is from 2044 to 2058, and the main actors Wu Jing and Andy Lau have obvious age changes in the film.
They are not simply getting old, Liu Peiqiang, played by Wu Jing, was an ignorant teenager in his early twenties when he first appeared, and then slowly became middle-aged. Andy Lau played by Tu Hengyu, in the real world, he has experienced from middle age to old age, but after he became a digital life, he became a handsome young man. These changes cannot have traces of over-embellishment on the big screen.
In addition to the regular makeup techniques used for the actors, facial visual effects techniques were also used in the film. Actors are able to return to their youthful appearance in a more natural state, and then gradually age.
Zhao Haoqiang explained that the parameters of the actor's facial change are collected according to the standards of medical beauty. For example, when a person is forty years old, his facial collagen will be lost, wrinkles at the corners of the eyes will slowly appear, and the shape of cheekbones and chin will also change. Based on this data, the visual effects department was able to accurately produce facial visual effects on actors.
Facial visual effects are only one part of the character's age change, and this process also requires the actor to adjust the performance state. For example, Wu Jing plays 20-year-old Liu Peiqiang, and he has to work hard to show the physique of a young man. At the same time, the costume and props department should also provide corresponding assistance according to the age positioning of the character.
The visual effects department had a problem creating Tu Hengyu's digital life, and they couldn't copy Andy Lau's appearance when he was young. Because Andy Lau played a policeman and a big man when he was young, his youth images do not meet the characteristics of scientist Tu Hengyu. Based on Tu Hengyu's character settings and the physical characteristics of scientists, the visual effects department created a young Tu Hengyu exclusive to "The Wandering Earth 2".
In the "The Wandering Earth" series, human scientific and technological work is inseparable from the application of artificial intelligence. Some audience members asked, what impact will artificial intelligence have on visual effects production?
Zhao Haoqiang replied that the current artificial intelligence is of some help to the conceptual design department of visual effects companies, and artificial intelligence programs can quickly build a world view in the form of images. However, artificial intelligence is not very sensitive to moving images, and it cannot replace humans to complete the complex process of visual effects production at this stage.
Finally, host Huang Fei asked, "The Wandering Earth 2" has been launched on major streaming media platforms, why should the online version be modified?
Zhao Haoqiang said that the online version of "The Wandering Earth 2" has made more than 100 minor adjustments. Because theatrical films have to be released in time, there is always room for improvement in visual effects production when time is tight.
After the film was released, the director watched it several times on the big screen and received feedback from many audiences. So, he decided to make some adjustments before the film went live for streaming. In the spirit of excellence, MOREVFX continues to "hurt each other" with the director.
This modified more than 100 visual effects shots, including the improvement of the picture effect, and some effect additions in the details of the picture. Specific to which details are different, Zhao Haoqiang sold a pass, he hopes that the audience will find the difference by themselves through watching comparison.