Luma Calls Tails, in “No Country for Old Men”

Luma Pictures helped recreate the brutal, untamed landscape of the New American West in providing visual effects for the new Coen Brothers film No Country for Old Men.

The studio was the sole visual effects supplier for the film, delivering more than 60 shots, including stunningly real CG wildlife and impossible action sequences. No Country for Old Men will be released by Miramax Films November 9.

Based on the book by Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men is a tense, violent and darkly witty tale that centers on a multi million dolar drug deal that goes bad in the unforgiving hinterland of the West Texas. When Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles upon the abandoned loot, he sets off a chain reaction of catastrophic violence that not even the law can contain. Luma role in the film was to help the filmmakers portray the unforgiving, outlaw nature of the story, but to do so imperceptibly and in a way that did not distract from the film graphic, unblinking realism.

‘Most audience members would not consider this to be a visual effects film,’ said Luma Pictures Visual Effects Supervisor, Vince Cirelli, ‘but the work subtly contributes to the unflinching vision of the Coen Brothers at the top of their game.’

One of Luma most impressive accomplishments is a hunting sequence where Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) kills a pronghorn antelope and then stumbles upon several dead bodies. All told, the dozens of animals pictured in the sequence are CG. Luma artists developed a number of distinct antelope models representing animals of varying sex and age, and each one was animated to reflect a variety of individual performances. The artists studied various wildlife documentaries and biomechanics research in order to better understand natural animal behavior and movement. The inclusion subtleties such as tail twitches and the independent movement of the ears in the animation helped to give life and realism to the CG versions.

‘Each Pronghorn has a different reaction to its environment and the other animals around it as well as a unique panic response to the gun shots. This level of detail helped to make the shots more realistic,’ explained Animation Supervisor Raphael Pimentel.

In order to integrate the CG herd into the live action background, Luma artists added CG grass and ground cover to make the blend more seamless. Dust and debris that gets kicked up as the animals flee was also added in order to really sell the shot.

Additionally, Luma artists produced a variety of sequences to help realize the Coen Brothers’ vision for the film. Among the supplementary 3D sequences were photo-realistic CG birds, a CG commercial airplane, and CG destruction and debris. Supplementary 2D sequences included composites, matte paintings and a variety of shot enhancements. All of the sequences where executed at the highest level of quality, Luma’s trademark for all of their projects. ‘It was an honor to work for such great film makers, and we certainly hope to work with the Coen Brothers on future projects.’ notes Executive Visual Effects Supervisor, Payam Shohadai.

About Luma Pictures
Luma Pictures is a leading provider of visual effects services to Hollywood with a reputation for artistic integrity, technical innovation and efficient production. The company served has provided visual effects for top tier features including: Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End (Walt Disney Pictures/ Jerry Bruckheimer Films), Apocalypto (Buena Vista/Icon), Rush Hour 3 (New Line Cinema) The Covenant (Screen Gems/Lakeshore), The Holiday (Columbia Pictures), Crash (Lions Gate) and Ray (Universal Pictures).

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