Cinesite delivered almost 400 visual effects shots to Tetris, the true story of the high-stakes legal battle to secure the intellectual property rights for the classic video game.  The film was produced by Marv Films and was released on 31st March 2023.  Production VFX supervisor was Jody Johnson, with Cinesite’s work as lead vendor overseen by Holger Voss. 

Having realised the value of the game, American businessman Henk Rogers (Taron Egerton) and inventor Alexey Pajitnov have joined forces and are being chased through the streets of Moscow in an attempt to escape the pursuing KGB and reach the airport. Throughout this sequence, we see Henk and Alexey driving from various perspectives: head on through their windscreen, side views inside the car and also wide shots of cars swerving in wider views of the streets.

It was never going to be possible to film this sequence on location in Moscow, and one early idea was to instead film in Glasgow, adjusting the environment and buildings digitally afterwards. That idea was abandoned, partly due to COVID restrictions.  Previsualisation was created, conformed as realistically as possible and the data transferred to a gimbal rig built to match the car interior. The actors were shot on this programmed motion rig against green screen, reacting to turns, bumps and impacts. This performance was inserted into a CG car.


A Russian production company was hired to capture extensive reference photography of the chosen route, with several buildings picked out as requiring particularly close attention. Those buildings would be rebuilt, then adapted to create multiple iterations which could be used to help furnish missing areas of the streets.  Little contemporary 1980s footage was sourced or used. Most buildings in the streets have changed comparatively little and there was change, the team was able to cleverly remove modern artefacts and replace problem buildings using their pool of CG building assets.

An extensive catalogue of contemporary vehicles, street signs and other content was compiled. Stock footage was used to research car models which would have been present in mid-eighties Moscow. These cars were then sourced from libraries before being refined and textured. Henk and Alexey are driving a Lada and one of the three KGB cars is a Gaz Volga.

Since the environment had been created digitally, it could be rendered as a true reflection in the sequence which included multiple shiny, reflective surfaces like windscreen glass and car bodies. One real Lada was sourced by the production and the KGB actors were filmed delivering their performances on set within it. However, it was ultimately easier to replace that car with a CG version with full reflected environment than to add them onto its real surfaces. 

Towards the end of the sequence, Henk and Alexey drive down a narrow street in an attempt to evade their pursuers, but find a truck driving towards them. Having squeezed past it, one of the KGB cars crashes into it; the front of the car crumples upon impact and the windscreen smashes. These destruction FX were simulated using Houdini, then cleaned up in modelling. 

Cinesite’s team contributed various other buildings and sequences to the film, including a Red Square army parade complete with tanks, marching armies and militaria.