LONDON/LOS ANGELES — The MPC (moving-picture.com/film) team, lead by VFX supervisor Sue Rowe, CG supervisor Chris Downs and 2D supervisor Sean Konrad, worked closely with production VFX supervisor Volker Engel to create more than 200 shots for Roland Emmerich’s new feature, Independence Day: Resurgence. MPC open the film with an action-packed sequence based on the moon. The scene begins with the arrival of a new weapon to the Earth Space Defense Station and finishes with the alien mother ship destroying most of the planet on its way to Earth.
MPC built the moon, which includes two main lunar environments, the Sea of Tranquility and the Van de Graff Crater. For this, the team researched NASA photography, used production concept art and Hubble references for views from the moon to Earth. The team studied the properties of the moon’s surface to ensure the simulations were geologically representative. This also helped make the destruction of the organic surfaces look photoreal.
The Independence Day: Resurgence production team supplied concepts of the cannon on the moon base. MPC built the 300m tower in high detail plus hundreds of other assets for the surface, including smaller buildings, CG lunar vehicles, the moon tug, moon buggies, fighter jets, digital doubles of David (Jeff Goldblum) and Jake (Liam Hemsworth), and the moon cannon. Smaller details, such as lunar dust particles, flashing landing lights, tire tracks and footprints, were added to the powdery surface.
As the heroes investigate an alien crash site, the gigantic mother ship appears, ploughing into the moon’s surface creating a meteor storm of debris and lunar soil heading straight for them. Live action plates were shot in a studio against bluescreen, with partial set builds for the lunar surface. The actors were on wires to simulate the differences in gravity. As the destruction starts, there is a switch to full CG digi-doubles of the characters in their space suits, created using detailed scans and photographs of the actors.
Ultimately the mothership’s beam demolishes the moon base with its green laser, synonymous with the first movie. MPC’s VFX team used RealFlow and Houdini to recreate the iconic green beam.
MPC’s final shot is a full-CG shot of the mothership detonating eight Orbital Defense Satellites in one enormous blast.