Cinesite has delivered breath-taking visual effects for Lionsgate’s release, The Last Witch Hunter.
Cinesite’s VFX team, under the supervision of Holger Voss and Stéphane Paris, created the visual effects for a few key sequences; the Queen Witch’s resurrection and the epic battle that follows, between her and Kaulder (Vin Diesel).
In this supernatural world of witchery, one of the witches, Schlesinger (Isaach De Bankolé) finds himself entrapped in a cocoon. “Our team of artists had the challenging task of enhancing the live action set piece and prosthetics with a CG cocoon. This included adding membranes, fibers, moving branches and insects to make the cocoon come alive, keeping it embedded into the actor’s face while taking care not to alter his performance,” says Holger Voss, VFX Supervisor. The team created a procedural “root system”, which could grow and encase the character and surrounding tree. The roots’ movements were then accentuated in certain shots with hero key frame animated roots and the addition of more fibers.
The Queen Witch’s fly swarm used to attack Kaulder had multiple objectives, explains Stéphane Paris: “The challenge was to capture the energy and dynamic speed of the swarm (of up to 1.5 million flies), while giving shape to the swarm to allow the audience to follow the direction of the flies.” Various motion studies and versions were created, all exploring how a swarm might behave. Ultimately, working with Breck Eisner (Director) and Nicholas Brooks (VFX Supervisor), we settled on a more calligraphic look, to show that the swarm was under the Witch Queen’s supernatural control.
In addition, Cinesite developed the look of the immortality transfer that can be seen in a number of key moments in the film, as well as the Queen Witch tree which appears in the film as both “live” and “dead”, book-ending the Schlesinger storyline.