Edge of Tomorrow: MPC and Cinesite make last day a misery for Cruise
Tom Cruise spends his last day in peril in Edge of Tomorrow, courtesy of VFX from MPC and Cinesite.
The futuristic thriller follows soldier Cage (Cruise), who is caught in a time loop on his last day of a battle against aliens. The film was directed by Doug Liman, with visual effects supervision by Nick Davis.
Cinesite’s major VFX action sequence places Cage in an indoor combat training range, fighting a robot Mimic to hone his battle skills. Gradually, through the repetition of his many deaths and the tuition of Rita (Emily Blunt), Cage’s skills improve until we finally see that he has become a deadly fighter. In total, the Mimic kills Cage 15 brutal, bone-crunching times as it smashes into him.
The Mimic was created entirely in CG by Cinesite, with visual effects supervision by Simon Stanley-Clamp and animation direction by Eamonn Butler. Various motion studies and versions were created, all exploring how it might travel; it needed to move in straight lines, as though traversing a ceiling grid, in a jerky, mechanical way.
“The challenge was to capture the energy and dynamic speed of the fight,” said Stanley-Clamp. “So technical considerations like how quickly the Mimic would spin and how much motion blur it would give off were very important.”
Also important was getting the design of the Mimic right. “The range environment is like the inside of an massive industrial hanger,”added Stanley-Clamp. “In keeping with this, I wanted the surface to resemble a beaten up, rusted yellow cab. When the Mimics break they are mended crudely, with new parts roughly bolted on; bumps and scratches remain visible.”
In the finished fast-paced sequence, there is seamless interaction between Cage and the Mimic, which establishes a convincing sense of agility and danger.
Simon Stanley-Clamp and his 70 strong team also worked on several other key sequences in the film, in total completing 189 shots in the final cut. Their range of work included adding a full CG military encampment to Horseguards Parade, complete with CG tents, military vehicles, refugee and military digidoubles, as well as several other environment enhancements and replacements throughout the film.
MPC creates alien mayhem
Lead by VFX Supervisor Gary Brozenich and DFX Supervisor Matt Middleton, who worked closely with Nick Davis, MPC delivered the finale sequence which follows Tom Cruise’s character under the water to destroy the alien ‘Omega’.
In the sequence, Cage is integrated with a CG submerged Louvre car-park environment and the alien ‘Alpha’ which follows him under water, ripping through the already partially destroyed concrete structure of the car park. An underwater tank shoot provided the plates of Cage for the majority of the sequence, with a number of the wider shots using a Cage digidouble.
The Alpha creature consisted of thousands of segments, which forms its numerous limbs, all controlled using a mixture of procedural and hand animation by MPC’s animation team.
The CG underwater environment was fully modelled, textured and displaced to provide the detail and parallax required as the camera descends quickly through narrow concrete passages. Prman was used throughout for the rendering of the environments, creatures and FX.
A number of FX simulations using both Maya fluids and Flowline were created for the water surface, plankton and subsequent dust and debris impacts. The destruction of the Omega’s core was created using both filmed material and CG. The explosive elements were specifically shot in a glass tank and shot at a high frame rate using a Phantom camera. They were combined with a number of FX elements which were simulated in Maya and Flowline, including bubbles, rolling dust clouds and debris.
The ink-like fluid that initiates Cage’s last time loop was simulated using Maya fluids. It was designed to have a realistic ink dynamic whilst having sentience, as the fluid gradually encapsulates Cage. Specific ink elements were filmed at MPC for the final shot of the film, which sees the fluid travel along Cage’s face and blacks out his eyes. This shot used a combination of Maya Fluids and the filmed ink elements.