Cinesite creates killer VFX for Edge of Tomorrow

Cinesite created a fully CG killer robot and hundreds of other visual effects for the Tom Cruise sci-fi action thriller Edge of Tomorrow

The futuristic thriller follows soldier Cage (Cruise), who is caught in a time loop on his last day of a battle against aliens. The film was directed by Doug Liman, with visual effects supervision by Nick Davis.

Cinesite's major VFX action sequence places Cage in an indoor combat training range, fighting a robot Mimic to hone his battle skills. Gradually, through the repetition of his many deaths and the tuition of Rita (Emily Blunt), Cage’s skills improve until we finally see that he has become a deadly fighter. In total, the Mimic kills Cage 15 brutal, bone-crunching times as it smashes into him.

The Mimic was created entirely in CG by Cinesite, with visual effects supervision by Simon Stanley-Clamp and animation direction by Eamonn Butler. Various motion studies and versions were created, all exploring how it might travel; it needed to move in straight lines, as though traversing a ceiling grid, in a jerky, mechanical way.

“The challenge was to capture the energy and dynamic speed of the fight,” said Simon Stanley-Clamp. “So technical considerations like how quickly the Mimic would spin and how much motion blur it would give off were very important.”

Also important was getting the design of the Mimic right. “The range environment is like the inside of an massive industrial hanger,”added Stanley-Clamp. “In keeping with this, I wanted the surface to resemble a beaten up, rusted yellow cab. When the Mimics break they are mended crudely, with new parts roughly bolted on; bumps and scratches remain visible.”

In the finished fast-paced sequence, there is seamless interaction between Cage and the Mimic, which establishes a convincing sense of agility and danger.

Simon Stanley-Clamp and his 70 strong team also worked on several other key sequences in the film, in total completing 189 shots in the final cut. Their range of work included adding a full CG military encampment to Horseguards Parade, complete with CG tents, military vehicles, refugee and military digidoubles, as well as several other environment enhancements and replacements throughout the film.

A fight simulator game that follows the Cinesite sequence in the film is online now.

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