Salt, the hotly anticipated Columbia Pictures spy thriller starring Angelina Jolie is on track to be one of this summer’s biggest blockbusters. Film director Phillip Noyce, turned to Framestore, the award-winning VFX and animation company, to create the feature film’s stunning and realistic visual effects.
“The stunt work in the film is fantastic, and in keeping with Phillip Noyce’s brief for realism, our VFX team worked heavily with the stunt crews to achieve key shots that would blend seamlessly within the stunt sequences,” said VFX Supervisor Ivan Moran.
Framestore NY was the lead VFX house on Salt and was responsible for key creative direction, technical CG and compositing. This is the first feature film to come out of the recently established film division in the company’s New York offices.
“This was a great film to come out of our new film division at Framestore NY, building on the Framestore legacy for VFX,” said Executive Producer VFX Sarah Dowland. “We knew how key the VFX work would be to the success of the film. There were many scenes and stunts that could not have been achieved without VFX involvement, and if those VFX moments were not realistic, the viewer would not believe the story. The demand for realism and transparency from Phillip Noyce was a challenge, but we were confident we would meet his expectations and we did.”
Salt focuses on the thrilling hunt to uncover the truth behind the identity of Evelyn Salt (Jolie), and that hunt takes the moviegoer on a wild ride. The film features countless stunts, explosions and car chases, each propelling the narrative forward and providing Salt with a number of narrow escapes.
Framestore worked with the Director and DP to carefully map out what could be captured in camera and then partnered with the film’s crew to ensure that the suspense never lets up due to a lack of realism. As the lead vendor on the movie, Framestore worked on over 300 shots.
“The real challenge was to realistically recreate objects and effects that people see every day,” said CG supervisor Theo Jones. “People are so familiar with some of the objects and experiences that we were building in CG and animation, so we needed them to be spot on or people would immediately sense that something was off and the believability of the scene would be in jeopardy.”
Framestore created a variety of CG crowd extensions, vehicles and set extensions to achieve the scale that the Director was after. Framestore’s VFX and animation work was vital to several key moments in the film, assisting the storytelling as well as making the action more compelling. Framestore even built, cracked and eventually disintegrated the floor of St. Patrick’s Cathedral using advanced CG and VFX techniques.
Framestore also oversaw one of the most impressive stunts in the film, when Salt drives off the 59th Street Bridge. A rigged SUV was actually pulled off one of the bridge exit ramps, smashing spectacularly into the taxi’s below.
“Multiple cameras were placed to film the stunt,” said Moran, “With perhaps the most ambitious being a camera rigged inside the vehicle itself, to be used as the backplate for a composite shot of Angelina seen from inside the vehicle on impact.”
To achieve this, the impact camera was later matched on a bluescreen stage, with vehicle seats and rigged airbags built for Angelina to perform against. Framestore was able to quickly comp Angelina’s takes on set to provide invaluable feedback from the director as to how the performance was matching the inside footage of the real SUV crash. For the final shots, CG dust and debris were added to blend the plates together and combined with the surrounding stunt work, the result is a stunning sequence of Salt’s escape.
Columbia pictures presents, in association with
Di Bonaventura Pictures, and Sony Pictures Entertainment
DIRECTOR Phillip Noyce
PRODUCERS Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Sunil Perkash