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X-Men Origins Wolverine

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X-Men Origins: Wolverine ends with a dramtic fight that destroys a cooling tower at a nuclear power station. For the final shot, the director wanted a continuous pullback showing the characters amid the debris.

The camera starts close on the actors, filmed on a stage with a section of dirt and rocks on the floor.  The camera starts craning up, and we create a 3D match-move that allows us to attach our imagery. That camera could only ascend about 20 feet, so a virtual camera is also created. Initially, these match exactly, but the virtual camera quickly takes over.

Once the view starts getting wider, everything in the original photography gets replaced. The ground and the actress are replaced by a matte painting. Wolverine is modified to turn and run at the right moment for the modified camera move. After he takes a few steps, he runs out of the original frame, so he is replaced by a digital version running across the landscape.

As the camera accelerates upward, more of the matte painting is revealed. The larger chunks of debris were modelled in 3D to allow parallax shifts as the camera flies past. Emergency vehicles are also 3D. The choreography of the fire trucks and police cars was carefully considered to allow Wolverine a clean escape!

Some of the debris had to match specific arrangements established in the preceding scenes, so this was modeled and placed accordingly.

Additional debris was painted using reference from a plaster, cloth, and wire miniature that we built and broke into peices.

We built torches and shot fire elements from the Matte World Digital roof to insert into the shot. Smoke elements came from our reference library.

Place your mouse over this image to see "before and after" versions of the shot:

The remains of the tower itself is a 3D model with textures based on our plaster miniature and photographs of real cooling towers. Our fire elements help add definition to the internal structure.


The character of Gambit is established as arriving by seaplane, and here we see that plane taxiing away. The plane is a 3D model with a 2D animated wake.

Aerial photography provided reference for the surrounding buildings, parking lots, and shoreline. The dust cloud was painted as several variations, with animated distortion added in composite to show it drifting slowly downwind.

Before the camera disappears into the clouds, we reveal that the power plant is on an island in a large river. Traffic streams across a single bridge, responding to the disaster.

Film Credits

Film Credits