Each year, the Visual Effects Society (VES) recognises outstanding visual effects in film, television and other media with the annual VES Awards. Cinesite is thrilled to announce that The Bourne Stuntacular received a VES Award in the ‘Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project’ category. Salvador Zalvidea is credited with the win alongside Tracey Gibbons, George Allan, Matthías Bjarnason & Scott Smith.
Stage-based stunt show The Bourne Stuntacular, which opened at Universal Studios in 2020, is a cutting-edge fusion of stagecraft and film. The audience follows Jason Bourne across three continents as sinister characters pursue him, dangling from a helicopter in Dubai, being chased across rooftops in Tangier and pursued on a motorcycle through Washington.
Cinesite VFX supervisor Salvador Zalvidea oversaw the visual effects, alongside senior Unreal Artists George Allan & Matthias Bjarnason . RVX in Iceland also offered support. The spectacular 20-minute stunt show takes place in front of a bespoke 130 feet long LED screen. Cinesite’s team ultimately created seven very long shots; the longest was five and a half minutes’ long, and the desert environment alone covered more than 50 square kilometres. The full CG photorealistic environments, complete with FX and animations, needed to be delivered at 9k resolution, at 60 frames per second and be meticulously choreographed to match the moving set pieces on stage.
Commenting on the win Salvador said “The Bourne Stuntacular presented us with an intriguing challenge – to blur the line between stagecraft and film. I’m immensely proud that the work by everyone involved to help us create such a technically ambitious show has been recognised by the VES voters. Thank you to everyone at Cinesite, especially the pipeline teams, who worked tirelessly to make it happen. Thank you to Renaissance Entertainment – Jon Binkowski and Lisa Enos Smith. Also, to our partners at RVX, Proof and Unreal.”
Throughout the project Cinesite used a real time game engine; using Unreal allowed the team to adjust the camera movements, animations and layouts right up to the end of the production process, matching the reality of the moving set pieces. A traditional VFX renderer would have taken hundreds of times longer per frame, whilst Unreal Engine gave the artists the ability to very quickly iterate on site. Using a game engine also gave Salvador and the crew a VR experience during development, enabling them to review the show from any seat in the virtually created venue during development, to make sure it worked from every angle.
Since opening The Bourne Stuntacular has received another industry nod including ‘Outstanding Achievement’ by the Themed Entertainment Association. “The creative staging, and the dynamic way in which elements are combined — live performers, digital backgrounds, special effects — results in one ‘wow’ moment after another,” the Thea Award committee noted.