The journey from space goo to Venom

There is a sequence in Venom (2018) where Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is on the run from Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed)’s henchmen who are trying to retrieve the alien symbiote, Venom, from him. The chase sequence involves Brock riding at a high speed on the streets of San Francisco, whizzing past buildings, streetlights, footpaths and other nondescript objects. If you thought it was filmed on location, you could not be further away from the truth.

After his talk on Venom at Bengaluru GAFX 2019, an animation, visual effects, gaming and comics event, Jaykar Arudra, VFX Supervisor, DNEG, breaks down the scene and more.

Excerpts from the interview:

You said India was responsible for 200 shots in Venom. Can you elaborate?

The effects were created by London-based company DNEG. The work was distributed across London, Chennai, Mumbai, Vancouver and Montreal. Over 200 people were involved in India and the project took around five months.

The journey from space goo to Venom

One only thinks of VFX being used when there is something that does not exist in real life. During your talk, however, it became clear that there were so many effects that the audience will not even realise. For example, the motorbike chase...

That sequence is one of the highlights of the film. The entire scene was done in Mumbai. A couple of shots were actually done with stunt doubles on location and most of the close-ups of Tom Hardy was done inside a studio where he is sitting on a bike against a blue screen. We also had a second unit that shot all the background plates.

Mixing two different things is always tricky — but then the challenge was the fun.

Is it simpler to do it this way rather than having the actor on location?

I think so because it is safer for the actor. There are specialised stunt guys who have years of practice on how to ride like that. And then you have actors who are trying to do that in a week or so. It is impossible to put actors in such risky situations. There is one scene where Tom Hardy gets sandwiched between two cars. Initially, we wanted to shoot that on location. But then a rig was made where he is on the bike and being pulled. Of course, through visual effects and animation, we make the scene much more dangerous. We get the cars much closer to him… make the action more interesting. There is a certain speed that the stunt guys ride but that may not look fast enough for that adrenalin rush. So, those scenes, we speed it up. Doing that, has its own challenges. It still has to look real.



What was most challenging in terms of visual effects for the film?

The entire film was quite challenging because like I said, every shot comes with its own challenges. The chase sequence was on a different level. If you see the police chasing him in the car, they were not driving a car at all. We created everything. When the audience sees the sequence, if they were to says ‘what’s the big deal. It looks like you have just gone and shot there.’ I think that is a win for us.

You think it is a good thing when the audience can’t tell that effects have been created?

Absolutely. We don’t want our work to be seen. When it looks seamless, the audience buys into the story. That is when it is successful visual effects.

Do you feel that the Marvel films’ post-credit scenes have helped get recognition for VFX artists?

It is good, it is exposure for the artists. Who wouldn’t want their names on the screen? I think if there is more awareness among the audience on this is how effects are done, then there will be more respect and more of a wow factor for the artists.

The journey from space goo to Venom

Thanks to the glut of superhero films, the audience is exposed to top-of-the-line visual effects and wish to be amazed everytime they watch a film. Is this a good thing or a challenge?

Generally, when we enter a project, we don’t know what the final result will be. As a filmmaker, everyone wants to show the world for the first time. We are the team that is going to help the director realise that vision. We would sit with him/her, ideate and conceptualise. I think that also puts pressure in the Indian scenario where we have to step up our game in terms of visuals because the audience is exposed to so much.

That responsibility lies more with the directors and the production houses. This is an art. They have to give time for the art so that it can shine.

In India, what do you think is the state of VFX sector and what needs to be done to improve and move forward?

In some shape or form, visual effects is needed in every film made today. I think the industry needs some more government support for sure.

More students are interested in the field now because it’s becoming a mainstream career. The sooner the gap closes between what academies teach and how ready students are to step into the real world, the better for the industry and for all of us.

Venom 2 is officially going to happen. Hypothetically, apart from Carnage, which characters would you like to provide the effects for?

Venom basically transforms into different characters. We had a female Venom and floating head Venom. So, I am actually looking forward to more such creatures because we all like Venom. If he comes in other shapes and forms, it is always fun.

What are the projects you are working on right now?

Currently, I am working on Brahmastra (starring Amitabh Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and directed by Ayan Mukerji).

I think it is going to look awesome. Obviously, I can’t talk more about it. It is definitely something that has not been seen on Indian screens before.

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 6:56:01 PM |

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