Face Swaps, CG Buildings, Live-Action Gameplay and Digital Actors Help Bring a Video Game to Life for the Action-Comedy
In 20th Century Studios’ Free Guy, the lines between real and digital are deliberately blurred, with the focus jumping between live-action and CG based on the point of view of the characters. For the filmmakers, it was like creating two movies in one, each requiring different techniques, from replacing actors with digidoubles to creating entire CG cities. With only a handful of visual effects studios in the world capable of doing it all, 20th Century Studios turned to veteran VFX house and Oscar winner, Digital Domain.
“We worked closely with Shawn Levy and the filmmakers to essentially create Free City twice, once by augmenting live-action footage with digital additions, and again as a fully CG environment right out of a video game,” said Nikos Kalaitzidis, Digital Domain VFX supervisor. “There’s really nothing else out there that is quite like it, and that allowed us to do things we’ve never done before.”
The Two Sides of Free City
Free Guy begins with a live-action introduction to the metropolis of Free City, as one of the game’s top players makes his dramatic entrance. As the character “BadAss” plummets toward the city, filmmakers used a combination of digital and practical effects, beginning with footage of the actor in a wire harness suspended by a retractable crane. BadAss soon turns his descent in a low-opening skydive, featuring a CG parachute, landing perfectly in a waiting convertible supercar. To make the transition from the fall to the landing, artists at Digital Domain created digidoubles of the actor, making an otherwise impossible stunt seem natural.