Televisual: Cinesite’s Battle Ready VFX

Sony/Columbia’s new Jonathan Liebesman directed disaster movie Battle: Los Angeles centres on a series of striking visual effects from Cinesite. The VFX giant created many of the film’s intricately detailed battle sequences as well as the Commander Alien character.

Liebesman chose Cinesite after seeing its work on HBO’s Generation Kill and being impressed by the military hardware, helicopters, armoured vehicles and elaborate explosions in the production.

To create the effects in Battle: Los Angeles, Cinesite took physical elements shot on location and composited them onto digital matte paintings, adding layers of cg smoke, dust, haze, fire and water explosions. Cinesite used Maya Fluids and its own proprietary software cSmoke to create many of the effects.

For a sequence involving an invasion of Santa Monica airport, a plate was shot with three helicopters, which Cinesite multiplied to 12 helicopters using cg models. It also populated the airfield with tanks, armoured vehicles and distant smoke rings.

Ben Shepherd headed up Cinesite’s VFX team and worked on the movie for 10 months, including six weeks on set in Louisiana.