<I>No Time to Die</I> mixes practical & digital effects
SFX supervisor Chris Corbould & VFX supervisor Charlie Noble
Issue: January/February 2022

No Time to Die mixes practical & digital effects

Epic action set pieces are a hallmark of Bond films, none more so than No Time to Die, the 25th outing for James Bond and the final appearance for Daniel Craig as agent 007. The VFX and SFX teams worked in close collaboration with all other departments to ensure that as much of the work as possible was captured in-camera.

The special effects on No Time to Die utilized every aspect of practical effects, involving a highly skilled team of technicians from the UK, Italy, Norway and Jamaica. Visual effects complimented and enhanced the narrative behind these emotionally-charged sequences, placing Bond and his young family at the center of the action and directly into harm’s way.

Director Cary Joji Fukunaga impressed on us all his desire for practical solutions to create his vision, and to achieve this, practical SFX and stunts were pushed to the limit to create dynamic in-camera action, with visual effects employed as an extension to their craft. Practical explosions, pyrotechnics, mist, snow and water effects were integral with the suspense/emotional content of the script, and Aston Martin DB5 modifications proved vital to the safety and spectacle of the final sequence, complete with operational gadgets.

Remote driving pods fitted to the roof of two vehicles allowed a British Rally Champion to speed through Matera streets with Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux ensuring genuine reactions associated with the journey. Meanwhile in a later scene, a 60-foot hydraulic rig allowed the trawler interior to rotate and sink into a 20-foot water tank, which, combined with massive air compressors, created a bubbling cauldron. Daniel Craig and Geoffrey Wright rehearsed for days to gain confidence and emotional effect in this claustrophobic set.

Having so much in-camera was key to creating consistent and invisible VFX shots, and even Bond’s final moment consisted of massive practical explosions integrated by VFX into the scene with Bond on the rooftop.

The movie was shot on film and on a variety of formats, including 65mm (15 perf), 65mm (5 perf), 35mm anamorphic and 35mm spherical. Over 30 minutes was shot on IMAX, and 1,483 shots were completed by multiple VFX houses in 14 weeks at 4K resolution. We applaud the filmmakers for holding out to allow our work to be showcased as was intended on the big screen. We hope we did justice to Daniel Craig’s last film as James Bond, as we strived to keep the SFX/VFX in-context with the incredibly-emotional and evocative narrative.