By IAN FAILES
Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle opens with a dramatic car chase through the streets of London in which Kingsman secret agent Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton), in a transforming London taxi, is pursued by Charlie Hesketh (Edward Holcroft), a former Kingsman trainee.
Pulling off the chase, which also involved some close-quarters fight scenes inside a taxi, required collaboration between stunt-viz, on-set stunts and visual effects. VFX Voice chatted with Visual Effects Supervisor Angus Bickerton and members of Framestore’s crew on the film to find out how the shots were achieved.
Planning and shooting
Stunt Coordinator Brad Allan, stunt performer Guiomar Alonso and his team, and Stunt-Viz Editor Yung Lee began by putting together a visualization of the stunts involved in the car chase. “Brad and Guiomar created this inventive fight choreography and inventive camera choreography as well,” says Bickerton. “It meant that for all the interiors of the taxi, which were all shot on a greenscreen stage with a taxi that had removable sections, we would need to do these impossible camera moves that wouldn’t normally be possible filming in an actual car.”
Exterior plates to composite into the fight scenes were filmed on London streets with a camera platform and an array of eight cameras that provided a full 360-degree environment. Views of the chase that are seen more from outside the vehicles were previsualized by The Third Floor, and that also informed what needed to be filmed with the camera platform. Various locations in London and Birmingham served as locations for the actual chase shots, too.
Stitching and VFX-ing
The plates from the multi-camera array rig were stitched together by Framestore to create the 360-degree environment. “We had seams between the cameras, and perspective-wise there were some issues,” details Framestore CG Supervisor Fabio Zangla. “These included car tires not sticking to the road, or the car looking too small in shots. We also had to work out how to bring the camera array setup into our pipeline.”
Framestore built a CG taxi from photographic reference and a scan of the vehicle inside and out. This was necessary because the greenscreen stage car was full of rigging and had no wheels on it. “Sometimes we knew we had to cut away sections we’d have to digitally replace,” says Bickerton. “Then when we did do things like move around the car on the outside. We basically projected the 360-degree footage onto very, very simple geometry. We never really got into building any 3D streets.”
“Stunt Coordinator Brad Allen and stunt performer Guiomar Alonso created this inventive fight choreography and inventive camera choreography as well. It meant that for all the interiors of the taxi, which was all shot on a greenscreen stage with a taxi that had removable sections, we would need to do these impossible camera moves that wouldn’t normally be possible filming in an actual car.” —Angus Bickerton, Visual Effects Supervisor, Framestore
Other vehicles in the scenes were sometimes CG, often for safety reasons as the cars and actors have many close run-bys. One particular part of the sequence – when Eggsy must jump up from the door he is hanging onto – made use of multiple techniques.
“We had a live-action plate in slow motion for Eggsy,” outlines Framestore Compositing Supervisor Chris Zeh. “For the background we used a stitched array plate but enhanced it with CG elements of trees and street furniture. We used a CG taxi so that all the interactive lighting and reflections would be correct. We added CG cars for the traffic around them and the car that crashes frontally into the taxi. To top it off, we needed FX for the impact debris. Getting all these elements to look right and work correctly in the context of the shot was a challenge.”
“We used a CG taxi so that all the interactive lighting and reflections would be correct. We added CG cars for the traffic around them and the car that crashes frontally into the taxi. To top it off, we needed FX for the impact debris. Getting all these elements to look right and work correctly in the context of the shot was a challenge.” —Chris Zeh, Compositing Supervisor, Framestore
Firing and diving
Towards the end of the car chase, Eggsy’s taxi takes out more adversaries in Hyde Park with a missile attack – a sequence crafted by Framestore.
“The shots around Hyde Park, much like all of the taxi chase shots, are a mix of techniques,” explains Zeh. “Whatever worked best for a certain shot was used. For example, the shot with the missile launch is by and large full CG with a live-action taxi element at the beginning and some miniature explosion elements at the end. The shots around it though are live-action greenscreen plates with stitched array backgrounds, oftentimes enhanced with CG elements.”
Eggsy then escapes the scene by going underwater, with the taxi converting into a submarine. The diving shots were a practical rig, but the underwater views were digital Framestore builds.
“The wheels of the taxi pop out and turn to face forward, propellers and fins emerge, and some ballast tanks appear,” says Zeh. “They had shot live-action of the taxi going into the water on location, and then as we transitioned underwater, it went to a fully CG taxi executing the transformation. At that point, everything was CG – the taxi and the underwater environment. The only thing that was live-action was Eggsy himself, who was an underwater or dry-for-wet greenscreen element that we composited into the taxi.”