Edge of Tomorrow, Doug Liman’s big screen adaption of 'All you Need is Kill' is a film about trial and error – Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is killed within minutes of his first day of combat, only to get trapped in a time loop that allows him and United Defence Operative Rita (Emily Blunt) to live, die and repeat their struggle against the formidable Mimics again and again.
Framestore's Art Department and VFX team both started work on the project in late 2011, ready for some trial and error of their own when tasked with helping design not just the soldiers, but also the Mimics: superfast, almost indescribable creatures with a tangle of tentacle-covered retractable limbs.
VES Award Nominated
Outstanding Virtual Cinematography
AEAF Award Winner - Silver
Feature Film VFX
Saturn Award Nominated
Best Special Effects
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award Nominated
Best Visual Effects
Creating (& recreating) the Mimics
The Art Department and VFX team worked in partnership to perfect the stars of the show: The Mimics. The basic Mimics, glowing yellow and with four limbs, each of those covered in a number of tentacles, are led by the larger but rarer Alpha Mimics – glowing blue, six limbed and again covered with extra tentacles. Both creatures’ limbs and tentacles can grow and retract as they move. The complexity was reflected in the rig, which had up to 2000 controls for the animators to play with.
“We had to find ways of making them not look like a traditional quadruped” says London Animation Lead Brad. “You never really see all of their limbs on screen at the same time because we cycled them so as one disappears another grows. All together it made it quite a complicated creature!”
'With Edge of Tomorrow we took on everything: Fluids interacting with themselves, close-up digi-doubles, extremely complicated character movement and massive fluid sims – we were asked to do every trick in the book and we rose to the challenge.'Jonathan Fawkner - VFX Supervisor
Live. Die. Repeat the Effects
Aside from the Mimics the show’s main animation challenge was actually the sheer range of work – huge dropships, soldiers, helicopters, close-up digi-doubles and, in the fully CG shots, often the camera too. Framestore's Research and Development were bought on board to support the team, including the work by the visual effects departments. VFX work which accounted for more than 400 shots, included the film’s fiery finale in a flooded, fully CG Paris, requiring large-scale environment work and impressive simulations.
Creating a digital Paris
The major work comes later on in the film as Cage and Rita travel to Paris; now a dead, dark and flooded city. Framestore animated the intricate dropship that the character's travel in, even working on the inside of the vessel.As the ship drops into Paris, there are miles and miles of a digitally-built, water-filled, smoke and fire enclosed city designed by the team. In one scene, Cage manages to drop straight into the Seine. There’s a digi-double take over here, flanked by two genuine takes of Tom Cruise holding his breath for some considerable time. He pulls himself out of the water and into our dark, digital Paris – the Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries, the Louvre and the surrounding area.
City of Light
Lighting was also tricky to get right. It is supposed to be a powerless city and had to look real, but then if it was really real you would barely see anything. The team made it work with the clever placement of fog and fire. “We illuminated the fog as if lit from the sides, off camera, always trying to make it look like ‘movie night’ rather than real night, which is impossible to photograph” explains Fawkner. The water, fire and fog were all done in fLush, the in-house fluid simulator. It was a real bi-directional, sometimes tri-directional simulation. The lighting was done in Arnold using bespoke fMote fog and volume shading. Those water simulations needed to cover such a large stretch of Paris (it is over a kilometre from the crash site to Louvre) that they are biggest done so far at Framestore. Not only was there water, but also a restarted dropship, hundreds of pursuing mimics and, of course, plenty of explosions, all of which need to react with each other, creating detailed splashes, foam and spray.
A playful and frantic science-fiction twister which mimics the best while offering something fresh and — most importantly — thrilling.Empire
As it stands, the uniqueness of the time reset premise and sci-fi action distinguish the film from so many others in the genre.Screen Rant
This is the kind of thoughtfully constructed movie that other summertime blockbusters should aspire to be more like.Vanity Fair
The smartest blockbuster of this summer season, or perhaps any summer season.Times (UK)
Known for our prowess in the VFX industry, Framestore's work ranges from key animated characters to complex environments and effects.
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