The Omen was shot in Prague between October and December 2005, with subsequent visual effects shot in January 2006. Cinesite's visual effects for the film included a decapitation, impalement, attacking dogs, violent gorillas, menacing atmospherics, and the creation of a series of sinister co-incidences. Many of the visual effects involved elaborate new takes on spectacular deaths from the original film, with cameras showing the action up close in shocking detail.
"We wanted to take the effects from the original 1970s classic a stage further," says VFX super Johnson. "We worked closely with John Moore to create scenarios that used visual effects to allow for more intimate and shocking audience perspectives."
One of the most memorable sequences from the original film is the death of Father Brennan, who is gets impaled by a church weather vane. In this new version, Father Brennan (Pete
Postlethwaite) is seeking sanctuary in a church undergoing renovation and surrounded by scaffolding. As a new stained glass window is being lowered into place, evil forces guide a lightning strike to a high scaffolding pole, which falls through the shattering window, impaling and lacerating the priest on the ground below.
The effects in this sequence were created using a combination of models, greenscreen, a computer generated scaffold pole, CG rain, digital matte painting and pyrotechnics. Postlethwaite was filmed on a dry set wearing a harness, with no rain or atmospherics. The finished sequence shows him being impaled, with CG glass on the ground and in his chest, being lashed by CG rain and leaves composited from a separate greenscreen element.
The decapitation of character Keith Jennings (David Thewlis) is also recreated in sudden and shocking detail. In another chain of co-incidences, a careless workman's hammer slides away from him, where he is working on a roof in Israel. The hammer hits and breaks the rickety hinge of a sign, causing the sign to swing scythe-like towards Jennings, who stands up at precisely the wrong moment.
Several passes, including a clean plate, Thewlis against greenscreen, a realistic dummy made from a cast of the actor's head, and blood splash elements were used for the final composite. For subsequent shots in the sequence where Jennings' body falls backwards down stone steps, a stuntman was filmed wearing a green hood. Cinesite removed the stuntman's head and tracked a 3D neck stump onto the lifeless, tumbling body.
Cinesite also created the death of character Mrs. Baylock (Mia Farrow) who is hit head on by a speeding car. Additional effects included turning Prague into London using digital matte paintings.