We designed and created the CG-heavy opening sequence that follows our CG train, a nod to the original, as it travels through a variety of landscapes. Our team also created the stump for Colin Farrell’s Holt, who loses a limb in the Great War, and replaced the actor’s arm throughout the film.
For the opening sequence, director Tim Burton asked us to make the front of the locomotive resemble a smiling face, paying subtle tribute to the 1941 original in which the train is highly anthropomorphized.
The wagons of the train were based on set pieces, and production shared with us designs, turntables and other materials for additional references. These were the starting point for our modelers, who adapted the design and added artwork as we built the final train.
The opening sequence includes a mix of digital matte paintings, full CG environments, and adapted live-action plates. The aerial footage from second unit shoots was augmented with our own shoot in Georgia and adapted with digital matte paintings and additional CG work. We also built fully CG environments, including the Florida swamp, for which we simulated the water, grass and palm trees.
The remainder of the film features our work on Colin Farrell’s character, which involved removing the green sleeve that the actor wore throughout the shoot and replacing his left arm with a stump.
Our team built CG assets of Holt’s four main costumes to replace the whole left side of his torso for a better and more realistic blend. When the camera moved around the character at full 360 degrees for action sequences, we executed full-body matchmoves and full cloth simulations of the character’s upper body - and for some shots, his lower body as well. We also reconstructed all the backgrounds occluded by the actor’s green-sleeved arm.