Director: Angelina Jolie
VFX Supervisor: Bill George
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release date: 26/12/14

"Rodeo was a great partner in not only creating the visuals but understanding the sensibility we were looking for. For me, it's the difference between just doing the work and bringing true artistry to it."

− Bill George, visual effects supervisor on Unbroken

Rodeo FX produced 240 stunning visual effects shots for Angelina Jolie’s World War II biopic Unbroken. Partnering again with Industrial Light & Magic, the Montreal-based VFX studio crafted photorealistic images, creating the breathtaking air combat between the B24s and the Zero fighter planes, among other spectacular sequences.

Every shot was designed so the viewers could put themselves into the story and nowhere was this more evident than in the 154-shot sequence that depicts the bombing of the Japanese-held island of Nauru. Zamperini’s Super Man, part of a fleet of B24s, is attacked by Japanese Zero fighter planes. Almost every element in the sequence – the Super Man bomber, the fleet of B24s, the Zero planes, the airstrip, most of the sky, and the bullets and tracer fire – was created as CG imagery.

After its fight with the Zero planes, the damaged Super Man lands at the Funafuti airstrip. The island, airstrip, soldiers running around, buildings, and foliage were all made of digital elements created by Rodeo FX. This environment started as a plate that Rodeo FX extended with matte painting, flak explosions, bullet tracers, bullet hits, and textures. The team shot practical elements – including dust, debris and rocks – with a RED Epic at the studio in Montreal, and blended them with their FX renders for a more photoreal look.

Rodeo FX has a long history of working with ILM, having created visual effects together on such films as Pacific Rim, Terminator, Indiana Jones, Mission Impossible, and Red Tails. ILM’s Bill George was also VFX supervisor on The Planet of the Apes (2001) and won an Oscar for the VFX in Innerspace (1987).