Wednesday, 2 March 2016

The girls of SPECTRE fully, absolutely NAKED...

...You dirty minded bunch of reprobates, tricked you, didn't I?. Well, I've been tricked before myself and by the professionals.When SPECTRE was in production, Sam Mendes hinted the film would rely less on CGI effects and more on 'doing it for real'. Well, it's all a matter of perspective...

From the opening shot, four minutes plus of continuous shot we are immersed, right there with Bond as he spots his prey, sashays up a staircase to his hotel room and leaves the hottest girl in the film to eavesdrop on the baddies and then shoot their bomb, causing two whole buildings to collapse.
Bond and Estrella leave a lift in Mexico City and enter a hotel room in Pinewood, England.
Personally, I only catch on that the computer-wizards have been at work when something looks off; the infamous surfing scene in Die Another Day is one example. Usually it's obvious in action films now – the hero jumps from a burning, crashing car and rotates mid-air blasting away with two pistols... fake, fake, awful fake. This sort of thing has ruined many a film for me and it's ludicrous; an insult to our intelligence. When you see Sylvester Stallone (Age Sixty Nine) or Arnie (Sixty Eight) doing stunts a thirty year old gymnast would shrink from, you know there's trickery afoot.
Stunt Doubles with Rubber Faces... sounds like a Surrealist Film Noir...

SPECTRE does it too; if you go, frame by frame through the Blu-Ray you'll see one or two split-second edits where Bond has an oddly frozen look on his face. At normal speed it's invisible, but stuntmen with lifelike rubber masks and computerised replacement were used. Likewise, Blofeld; those capture dots on his face (below) a hint at how that scar was to be produced.

Christoph Waltz plays - (Do you really want a Spoiler warning?) - Blofeld. Capture dots (Above) become a CGI/prosthetic scar (Below)

I don't mind this, any of it – subtle use of CGI is to be applauded. In fact, much of SPECTRE's CGI was so subtle, you may have missed it. Here's some favourites;
Above; Bond hurtles perilously down onto Hinx's convoy in Austria. Below - this original shot shows the propellers and wing-tips were added post-production by MPC. The Norman-Islander fuselage was suspended by cable from a row of cranes.
Fly-by-Wire... by combining computer effects with live-action stunts, a groundbreaking chase scene comes together. 
The train sequence in Morocco. A multi-carriage train takes Bond and Madeleine to their destination.
Budget cuts famously led to a rather more modest train being used. MPC film's CGI covers the cracks in funding - although CGI is often as expensive as physical effects and sometimes more.
Above; Chris Corbould (centre) with the 'Backfire' mechanism for the Aston Martin DB10.
It's not all CGI; far from it. Special Effects Supervisor Chris Corbould brings a wealth of experience to SPECTRE. Starting with The Spy Who Loved Me, he's worked on the Bond series. His first work was as an assistant on The Who's rock opera Tommy, but he's risen through the ranks to become the SFX Supervisor on the recent Star Wars films. When people think of physical effects, they imagine rain tanks and smoke machines, but Corbould's team re-engineered the Aston Martin and Jaguar cars for Die Another Day to give them four-wheel drive for better traction on snow and for SPECTRE he provided the largest screen explosion in screen history, crashed a full-size executive helicopter onto a 1:1 scale replica of Westminster bridge and engineered the gadgets that made Bond's DB10 so much more than a rich man's toy.
Above: Blofeld's desert HQ goes up in true Bond style. Chris Corbould's team produced the Guinness World Record explosion in safety.

Above; A fortunately-placed sofa breaks Bond's fall as the building collapses around him. Mexico City?, no; Pinewood!
Above; Corbould's team built this set, designed to collapse and then be reset!. Re-settable, safe sets are key to high-end productions that require multiple takes.
 Above and Below; Q-Branch toys provided by Chris Corbould's team
Back to the CGI now; as James Bond approaches the Hoffler Clinic, the audience sees a stylish glass construction. The original plate (below) shows a cable-car and some different internal lighting. Such subtle, clever usage means the CGI in SPECTRE becomes invisible. MPC film's work is among the very best.
Computer Effects company Cinesite provided some computer displays to add authenticity to MI6 wizard Q's work. Examples (below) include the welcome screen for the Hoffler Clinic, erm Klinik, tracking data for 007, Toxicology reports on a ring recovered from SPECTRE operative Sciarra and the 'smart-blood' application used to keep tabs on Bond.

Finally, my favourite. When we saw SPECTRE in the Cinema, my Wife and myself both giggled at the scene in Morocco when a tipsy Bond demands to know who a mouse is working for. Such is the talent at work here that neither of us had the slightest idea 'Mickey' was, in fact no more than a collection of pixels...

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