London-based Framestore recently completed 438 visual effects shots, across 16 sequences, for Matthew Vaughn's sequel to his 2014 hit film, Kingsman: Secret Service, in
Kingsman: The Golden Circle. The 20th Century Fox film, which is currently in theaters, sees stars Taron Egerton and Colin Firth welcome franchise newcomers Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore. Here, the story picks up with the Kingsman headquarters destroyed and the world being held hostage. The Kingsman discover an allied spy organization in the US who they team up with to defeat a common enemy.
Framestore’s Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Chris Lawrence (pictured) lead the team to deliver a package of stunning VFX work for this sequel, bringing ever more outlandish action and intrigue to the spy flick. Lawrence was also on-hand during the largely UK shoot, with a base at Leavesden and units at Longcross, Pinewood and Shepperton studios.
Here, Lawrence speaks exclusively with Post about the work he and his team completed for the film.
The sequel looks really interesting — lots of visual effects. Can you give me an overview of the types of effects Framestore completed for the film?
“We covered work across the Alpine building shootout, with full environment builds, the full CG underwater taxi sequence and a number of other diverse scenes; including the taxi chase you can see in the trailer. Every shot was a different piece, problem and solution which forced us to look at it with new eyes; but this of course, made it a great show to work on.”
Can you go into some detail about several of the key VFX sequences?
“The opening sequence taxi chase was a fun scene to be involved in. Three Jaguars are chasing Eggsy’s (Taron Egerton) black cab in a full-on action scene. Stunt supervisor and second unit director Brad Allen was tasked with working through the action beats. He’s an amazing guy who trained under Jackie Chan, he had a great approach to storytelling through stunts. He would do 20 takes of a stunt, and if it didn’t capture the story beat that he needed, he’d do 20 more until he got it right.
“An Array rig setup was mounted on the taxi, which we stitched together to create a 360-degree background which we could then repurpose as a backplate for shots. We had seams between the cameras, and perspective-wise there were issues.These included car tires not sticking to the road, or the car looking too small in shots. We also had to ingest this into our pipeline, which was a challenge. We were then tasked with two major CG environments builds: Waterloo Place and Hyde Park Corner, lit for a nighttime chase scene. Whole London streets were painstakingly recreated in CG for the sequences, based on photogrammetry and a LIDAR survey of the environments during the day.
“There was then the underwater swan station sequence, where Eggsy drives the cab into Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park. This was a lot of fun for us to do as everything was CG: the taxi and the underwater environment. In the last shot of the sequence, the taxi enters the secret Kingsman base, with our team transforming the taxi back into a normal-looking cab. Taron Egerton was in the taxi as the water drained out, in what was quite a dangerous stunt. As the water level lowered in the live-action, we composited that with the CG taxi. And then as the water drained away, that wiped through to a live-action taxi — and Taron had to hold his breath until all the water drained out. It was quite nerve-wracking!”
How did this film differ from other projects you’ve worked on?
“We were really pleased to get the chance to work on this film. It’s subtly reminiscent of the Roger Moore era of James Bond movies, allowing us to use some ‘old school’ techniques. Within compositing, we used R&D to create lens defects throughout the shots, adding flares and smudges to complete the desired look.”
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in completing the VFX?
“The challenge stemmed from each sequence being very different. Every time we started working on a new sequence of shots, we’d have to start from scratch. It was an eclectic piece of work, but that’s what made it fun.”
How closely did you work with the film’s VFX supervisor? What was that relationship like?
“We were lucky to have a close and collaborative relationship with Angus Bickerton. The production team was based close to our office in London, at Goldcrest. Angus would visit us twice a week so that we could run reviews, which was great for us.”
Any last thoughts about the work Framestore completed on Kingsman?
“We had a really great team within Framestore working on this show, it was a pleasure working with Angus and we are really happy with the results.”