Press Release: Cinesite Cranks up the Danger For San Andreas

Cinesite delivered a major visual effects sequence for the Warner Bros. production San Andreas, which releases in the US and UK today.

In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, rescue-chopper pilot Wade (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) makes a dangerous journey across the state in order to rescue his estranged daughter.  San Andreas was directed by Brad Peyton, with VFX Supervisor Colin Strause.  Cinesite’s work was completed at its Montréal and London Studios, overseen by VFX Supervisor Holger Voss.

As the first earthquake of the film strikes, a young woman driving alone in the Los Angeles mountains veers off the road, through a barrier and over a cliff. Hanging precariously in her car above the canyon, she phones for help.  Cinesite’s visual effects cover this entire exciting sequence, as the team attempt to rescue her from their helicopter.

Original photography for the sequence was filmed in Australia, with the actress in a car hanging from a hydraulic rig.  Holger subsequently flew to the Glendora Mountains in Los Angeles to join the crew, filming the car leaving the road.  Much of the car, landslide of rocks, crumpling road barrier and even the actress were recreated digitally, as local rangers in the protected area were keen to avoid environmental impact.

Cinesite VFX Supervisor Holger Voss: “Based on the extensive photographic reference taken in both locations, our team created a full CG environment including multiple cliff faces with animated plants, rocks and bushes; this environment was blended seamlessly with the live action portion of the set.  Our work made it the more dangerous action in the scene possible.”

The helicopter was created using a combination of the hydraulic rig with CG rotors, and a full CG version.  Both required the addition of realistic dust and atmospherics, and realistic downdraft impact was added to the surrounding cliffs.

Cinesite Montréal General Manager Chlöe Grysole: “This was Cinesite’s first major production in our Montréal offices and we’re really pleased with the results.  San Andreas allowed our teams in both locations to work together on one common project and utilize the strengths of each team to put the best possible work on the screen.”

Cinesite’s teams in London and Montréal are currently creating visual effects for several films, including Ant-Man, The Last Witch Hunter, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, Gods of Egypt, Spectre and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.