The American Society of Cinematographers

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In addition to the GoPros, the filmmakers employed a Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR for a sniper POV sequence that required a telephoto perspective, and for surveillance-monitor footage of enemy vans in pursuit. A Red Epic with Arri/Zeiss Ultra Prime lenses was also used to capture three slow-motion inserts as well as an opening scene that stars Tim Roth.

Although the filmmakers went out of their way to capture as much in-camera as possible, the completed movie contains approximately 1,800 visual-effects shots. Among the 12 visual-effects vendors, Zero VFX handled the massive bike-chase sequence. Visual-effects software packages used on the film included Mocha, Maya with V-Ray, Nuke and FumeFX.

“It was primarily cleanup work with some muzzle flashes and squibs, [and] mostly because of time as most everything was done practically,” Naishuller notes. “We did no greenscreen whatsoever, but there was a ton of rotoscoping on the soundstage for the Moscow skyline. It was a huge challenge, requiring a lot of hand-rotoscoping, for the CGI team to integrate CGI into the GoPro footage.”

Lyass adds, “We also did the typical rig removals and scene augmentations, such as inserting monitors, enhancing explosions, and environment extensions. Stitching and morphing shots together to ensure a seamless flow was particularly important. Since it’s a POV film, there is no b-roll to cut away to.

“For the final reel, which mostly takes place on a skyscraper rooftop at night, we used a black background instead of greenscreen,” he continues. “It’s better not to light the background at all and avoid the reflections, especially when you go 360 degrees.” These rooftop scenes were shot on a Moscow-area soundstage called Glavkino, and were handled by two visual-effects companies: Texas-based Mighty Coconut and Russia-based CGF.

“We certainly learned a few things along the way that we would do differently next time,” says Lyass, “but that comes with the territory. Most of the visual effects on Hardcore Henry are to enhance strong stunt work and practical effects. Lots of mechanical devices were also produced specifically for the film, and our stunt coordinator, Alexander Stetsenko, utilized plenty of his engineering knowledge.”

Footage was edited in Adobe Premiere throughout production on set, and continued for eight months after the final phase of principal photography wrapped. Editor Steve Mirkovich re-created the final assembly in Avid Media Composer in preparation for the film’s theatrical release. As Mirkovich had to leave for another project, editor William Yeh performed the final pass.

Colorist Kostas Theodosiou performed the final grading at FotoKem using Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve 12 in collaboration with Naishuller and Lyass. Theodosiou created custom LUTs and curves to achieve a cinematic look with vivid color and special styles for flashback scenes. Final deliverables included a 2K DCP and video deliverables for home-distribution formats.

Looking back at the finished film, Naishuller feels that the narrative results rise beyond the aesthetics. “At the end of each day I had a rough cut on my laptop,” he says. “The first assembly cut was two-and-a-half hours, and I then realized the magical moment where we transcended the gimmick and had a film. As I watched, I thought, ‘I’m enjoying the hell out of this, and it’s a really cinematic experience.’ The three [cinematographers] did such a great job of making it seamless.”

Naishuller looks forward to more projects. “Even though I’m interested in first-person POV and even virtual reality, the next film I do will likely be much more conventional,” he says. “I love film and I love traditional perspectives. I feel like there’s still so much to be done in conventional cinema.”



Digital Capture

GoPro Hero3 Black Edition, Red Epic, Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Arri/Zeiss Ultra Prime

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