Method Studios’ Invisible VFX Fuel Action in John Wick: Chapter 3
The third installment of Liongate’s high adrenaline franchise, “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” finds super assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) on the run with a $14 million price tag on his head. Hotly pursued by an army of bounty hunters, Wick must pull out all the stops from his deadly bag of tricks to keep them from succeeding. Reteaming with Director Chad Stahelski, Method Studios Melbourne helped amplify the film’s action, using digital artistry to raise the stakes and shatter a ton of CG glass in the process. Method VFX Supervisor Glenn Melenhorst worked closely with Production VFX Supervisor Rob Nederhorst to craft complex sequences that seamlessly unfold at breakneck speed.
“This film carries the distinct ‘John Wick’ look throughout most action scenes in how the muzzle flashes, blood spatter, bullet holes, clothing squibs and such are stylized, and we drew from that established visual language for our work,” Melenhorst explained. “Having previously established Chad’s aesthetic for those elements, we were able to focus our attention on tackling challenges inherent to working with a complex environment made largely out of glass. We had a lot of fun on this project and loved collaborating with Rob.”
To keep the visuals authentic and grounded, a small amount of practical glass was used on-set when safe, including a sequence in which Wick faces down would-be assassins in a corporate high rise. Augmenting plate footage shot on location, Method digitally inserted an extended New York skyline, which is composited into many layers of practical reflections; removed crew reflections; and added digital doubles to blend shots or for more dangerous maneuvers. The team also completed a considerable amount of shattering CG glass, which was fundamental to the glass office block sequence and also key to achieving Wick’s intimate knife fight in a narrow hallway lined with weapons cases.
“For safety reasons, the cabinet glass and knife throwing scene were done in CG, though production wanted to maintain a high level of tension. Choreographing the knife-throwing sequence was surprisingly involved and required a lot of planning; we had to figure out where the knife would land and also determine which panes of glass to break and how,” said Melenhorst.
Method also helped create a fully CG New York alley, and the urban chase sequence, during which Wick races down a traffic-lined bridge on horseback while being pursued by a gang of sword-wielding motorcyclists. While Melenhorst and his Method team are known for awarding-winning CG horse work, their efforts for this sequence focused on removing safety rigging and protective barriers used to film a practical horse as well as adding CG motorbikes and riders, and CG vehicles.
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