The visual effects specialists behind Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory have created the stunning and controversial vfx sequence in V For Vendetta where famous landmarks of London’s establishment are blown to pieces, to the music of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.
Their work involved weeks of architecture and building research, construction of the massive 30 foot high 10th scale models at Shepperton Studios, model unit photography and compositing of the models into background footage of London.
Set in a futuristic London, V For Vendetta tells the story of freedom fighter “V” rebelling against a fascist state, the result of England losing the Second World War. With a campaign focused on fighting the oppressive authorities with acts of terrorism, “V” attempts to convince the suppressed English people to rise up and rebel. V’s acts of terrorism include the spectacular destruction of the Houses of Parliament and the Old Bailey.
Model unit supervisor Jose Granell supervised the construction and unit photography for V For Vendetta. He undertook tests with different strengths of explosives, studying the internal and external architecture of the real buildings to establish how fast the explosions would travel and which areas would detonate first. Dictates of the explosion choreography affected the mix of the pyrotechnic and plaster recipes. All of this attention to detail ensured that the final result would be eerily accurate.
The model explosions were filmed on Shepperton’s 30,000 square foot H stage, using a motion control camera, a special computerized film camera adapted to make repeatable and intricate moves which are particularly necessary when filming major visual effects sequences. The explosions, filmed in various passes, were so loud that they were audible outside of the studios.
“I am so pleased with the final result,” says Model Unit Supervisor Jose Granell. “The sequence really makes people sit up and take notice. At the end of the day only we know how much work went into making it as seamless and convincing as it appears in the film, but we are pleased that people are so astonished by its realism that they wonder “how on earth did they do that?”
“The prospect of bringing to life the director’s vision of the destruction of key London buildings was an exciting one for us from the start. We were no strangers to building and destroying Big Ben – we had already created a sequence back in 1998 for The Avengers which included similar work based around London,” says Cinesite managing director Antony Hunt.
V For Vendetta is due for simultaneous US and UK release on Friday, March 17, 2006.