Director: Doug Liman
VFX Supervisor: Nick Davis
Studio: Warner Bros.
Release date: 06/05/14

Live. Die. Repeat. Here is the tagline of Edge of Tomorrow, one on this summer’s most gripping and entertaining action movies. Rodeo FX contributed to the spectacular visual effects of this critically acclaimed science-fiction film, where Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) finds himself inexplicably thrown into a time loop – forcing him to live out the same brutal combat over and over, fighting and dying again… and again. The movie takes place in the near future, where an alien race has invaded the Earth and defeated the world’s military units.

Rodeo FX was once again called upon to create amazing matte paintings and digital environments, working closely with Sony Imageworks to ensure these environments would work seamlessly with their animated mimics (aliens) and drop ships. Rodeo FX’s President Sébastien Moreau explains: “Our involvement included every step of production, from creating concepts through delivering final environments. We would then turn over our plates to Sony for final compositing of their animated elements. It was great team work and we are really proud of this 2nd collaboration with Sony Imageworks”, adds Moreau.

One of the most impressive locations created by Rodeo FX is definitely the massive Heathrow Airport environment where the story begins (and begins and begins) that houses the extensive international base for the United Defense Force. The idea here was to militarize Heathrow. VFX Supervisor Matthew Rouleau explains: “Our mandate was to do anything that was static – painting out the parked planes and other anachronistic features, replacing the ground, adding infantry tents, extending the background using tiles shot at Heathrow – and then handing back the plates to Sony, so that they could add their moving vehicles, crowd systems and drop ships.”

Another very dramatic scene that the viewers will remember for a long time is certainly the huge battle taking place on the beach (over and over again!) – an extremely impressive environment that required extensive work. Rodeo FX and Sony collaborated to extend the beach set in wide shots, using CG sand developed at Sony and combining it with tiles shot at Saunton Sands. This location was quite challenging, as the weather conditions and the shoot itself continuously altered the set’s topography. Using the Lidar data, the artists at Rodeo FX were able to make things line up, before turning over plates to Sony who filled the extended environment with digital vehicles, hovercrafts, helicopters and drop ships, as well as CG explosions and smoke to augment what had been shot live on set. VFX Producer Jordan Soles describes the collaboration between the two studios: “The beach shots were the last environment turned over to us and truly showed how well the Sony/Rodeo partnership worked as our timelines ended up being very tight but we still managed to deliver and exceed the expectations of Sony’s team”.

Rodeo FX artists also created armories that house the exoskeleton weaponry used by the soldiers to fight the aliens, as well as conceiving the abandoned trailer park where Major William Cage (Cruise) and Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) fight the aliens on their own. Production filmed an extensive trailer park set and then, Sony and Rodeo FX again teamed up to extend establishing shots of the environment, adding in the war-torn beach in the background and ambient smoke. Rodeo FX extended the back lot trailer park set with Sony’s CG trailers, adding mountains and skies to the backgrounds, and painting out studio structures. “For the CG trailers,” recalled Matthew Rouleau, “we took textures from some of the 100 real trailers that were actually there on the set. They took great photos on set, and we were able to extrapolate from those in our CG models”, adds Rouleau.

Edge of Tomorrow was Rodeo FX second effort working with Sony Imageworks, as we had also done similar work on The Amazing Spiderman.

Tom Cruise (the Mission: Impossible films, Collateral, Jerry Maguire) and Emily Blunt (The Devil wears Prada, The adjustment bureau) star in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow pictures’ sci-fi thriller Edge of Tomorrow, under the direction of Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith). The story is inspired by the Japanese novel entitled All You Need Is Kill, by Hiroshi Sakurazaka.

Read more about the VFX work on Edge of TomorrowCG SocietyCG MeetUpFX GuideVarietye-tribart