Rodeo FX has recreated the World Trade Center and its surroundings for Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk, a film that chronicles artist Philippe Petit’s high-wire walk between the newly constructed Twin Towers in 1974. Collaborating with VFX Supervisor Kevin Baillie and VFX Producer Camille Cellucci, Rodeo FX delivered more than 100 visual effects shots, including CG reconstructions of the towering World Trade Center and other scenes from 1970s New York.
In addition to building an accurate reconstruction of the Twin Towers, Rodeo FX was tasked to recreate the WTC Plaza, and a whole section of lower Manhattan using live plates shot in Montreal. The VFX studio was also responsible for the striking sequences where Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) stands on a platform beside Lady Liberty’s torch, and talks to the audience, as we see the Manhattan skyline in the background.
It was a wonderful challenge for the team to recreate such iconic landmarks, and every specialty at Rodeo FX had its hand in taking the viewer back to 70’s New York. Finding accurate reference images of the Twin Towers was not as easy task though, as the buildings were still under construction during the period depicted in the The Walk. Rodeo FX modeled the buildings based on construction blueprints, photos, and models it shared with production and with Atomic Fiction, the VFX studio in charge of recreating Manhattan seen from the rooftop.
In order to tell Petit’s 1974 high-wire walk across the Twin Towers and immerse viewers in the storytelling, Director Robert Zemeckis made an IMAX 3D version of the movie, which was definitely the way to go for such a unique visual spectacle!