July 21, 2017

Rodeo FX delivered 363 of the dazzling visual effects shots featured in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Luc Besson’s highly anticipated film adaptation of the French comic book series Valérian et Laureline.

The studio contributed elaborate visuals, bringing to life several landmarks featured in the popular series written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières, including the space city Alpha and the main spaceship called the Intruder.

Rodeo FX supervisor François Dumoulin, who led the project, previously teamed up with Besson on the 2014 sci-fi thriller Lucy.

“It is always wonderful to work with such a passionate director as Luc,” said Dumoulin. “He gave great direction about what he wanted in terms of the look, then let us work our creative magic.”

Alpha, the City of a Thousands Assets

Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) travel to an immense city planet that started as an International Space Station (ISS) and evolved into a gigantic urban cluster, where thousands of species from around the universe co-exist in harmony.

“We started building a model of the ISS for the title sequence. We kept adding many modules, environments and spaceships to turn it into Alpha, which consists of thousands of digital assets,” explained Rodeo FX Peter Nofz, associate VFX supervisor on the project.

Rodeo FX based its concept art for Alpha on the comic book and original artwork created by Besson and his creative team. The urban environments reference existing cityscapes like Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City and New York City’s Times Square.

“We needed to be faithful to the director’s vision of a crisp, saturated look as we built the individual parts of Alpha,” said Olivier Martin, art director and concept artist at Rodeo FX.

Intruder, Skyjet and the Space Battle

The Intruder appears throughout the movie, and Besson considers the spaceship the movie’s third main character. Rodeo FX art director Olivier Martin explored the various comic book renditions, ultimately creating a more modern version aligned with the movie’s look and feel.

The Skyjet, a smaller vehicle flown by Valerian, represents a design provided by the production company and enhanced by Rodeo FX using features from luxury car brand Lexus.

For the space battle that resulted in the destruction of planet Mül, Rodeo FX’s modeling team built the human and alien motherships, along with some fifty unique smaller spacecraft. This long sequence of complicated choreography involved dozens of spaceships, multiple explosions and shields, for which Rodeo FX used deep compositing to manage the numerous elements of the scene.

Produced by EuropaCorp and distributed by STX Entertainment, the film opens in theatres today.

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