The Art Of VFX Of The Movie Alita Battle Angel

The Movie Alita @animationkolkata

Based on Japanese Manga comic series Gunnm Alita: Battle Angel is directed by Robert Rodriguez and produced by James Cameron and Jon Landau.

Hello readers, today we will talk about the movie Alita: Battle Angel which hit the theatres in the month of February 2019.

Rosa Salazar portrayed the leading role as Alita, a cyborg heroine with supporting actor Christoph Waltz, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein and others.

This film used the mix of live-action and computer-generated imagery that James Cameron used in the film Avatar (2009) also.

Cameron used the technologies such as the Fusion Camera System, Facial Performance Capture and Simulcam for this film Alita: Battle Angel.

This American Cyberpunk action film showed ‘The Fall’ which led the Earth devastated and sent the civilization into a dark age.

Hollywood’s Science-Fiction Spectacle

The Movie Alita @animationkolkata

Actor Christoph waltz played Dr. Dyson Ido, a renowned scientist and caretaker of Alita.

The plot shows Dr. Dyson Ido discovering a disembodied female cyborg with a fully intact human brain from the junkyard.

Ido rebuilds the cyborg and named her Alita and the story unfolds further; Jackie Earle Haley is casted as cyborg villain in the film.

Framestore, Weta Digital and Double Negative provided the VFX for this film.

Eric Saindon worked as VFX Supervisor for Weta Digital and Michael Cozens as Animation Supervisor.

Joe Letteri, Nick Epstein, Nigel Denton-Howes are other VFX Supervisors.

This film is director Robert Rodriguez’s first $200 million Hollywood Science-Fiction Spectacle.

DNEG studio worked on creature cyborg animation, such as Factory Gang in the bar fight scene, Amok in the Ido’s flashback scene and environment work for roller-ball game.

The Iron City was designed with Spanish signs and Latin American architecture.

Rodriguez relied on technical studio Weta Digital for photorealistic CG-anime protagonist and the expansive environment.

The Movie Alita @animationkolkata

Weta Digital studio like its previous work on the film Planet of the Apes; captured actress Rosa Salazar through Mo-Cap or Motion Capture on location.

Weta applied two lightweight HD head cams for the first time to capture minute details which provided more information for reconstruction of the face.

As eyes are among the hardest visual effect to perfect; mesmerizing big doll like eyes of Alita took approximately one year to complete and Weta studio did simulation of fibres for the first time taken from a baby’s eyes.

“You always could feel the emotion through the eyes, because it’s Rosa’s emotion on the CG character.” said VFX Supervisor Eric Saindon.

Studio used Houdini to model the irises properly and each eye has almost million polygons.

Weta artists used their own patented process to scan human eyes; they also faced challenge in mastering light reflection in the eyes.

Weta animators maintained a delicate balance between performance and technology.

Director Rodriguez kept a balance between CGI and human performer as he promised actress Salazar that when she will see the CGI character on screen she will also see herself.

The Movie Alita @animationkolkata

Weta digital had to create different versions for the alabaster body of Alita created by Dr. Dyson Ido in the movie.

In the underworld fighting sequence between Alita and Jackie Earle Haley different variant of Cyber Girl were used and the digital artists had to track them throughout the fighting sequence.

Eric Saindon VFX Supervisor said that the director wanted the alabaster’s surface to be translucent so that when the light comes one can see the different patterns and the way it is designed.

Artists worked hard to match Alita’s finger with Rosa’s finger length and crafted all the joints exactly, for all these they had to scan Rosa’s hand.

About 8,000 pieces were needed to make Cyber Girl.

VFX artist also worked for the robotic body of Alita for Motor-ball sequence.

The crazy characters of Motor-ball sequence are inspired from Manga; the deadly sport Motor-ball entertains the people of Iron City.

All the other co-stars of Rosa Salazar were played by real, live humans.

The Movie Alita @animationkolkata

To create character Zapan (a cyborg bounty hunter tasked with tracking down and killing Alita).

Artists kept the face of the actor Ed Skrein but replaced the back of his head and the whole body; Zapan is human with cybernetic body.

For Weta VFX Artists most challenging sequence was the Ambush Alley Fight scenes.

Where Nyssiana and Romo both were live action elements with CGI enhanced bodies as a result artists were locked into the confines and the logistics of a live action set.

The Movie Alita @animationkolkata

Action scenes took place in Iron City within the film; Iron City is place beneath the aerial urban dwelling of Zalem.

Zalem is a giant metal structure man-made high-tech city that floats in the sky.

Zalem is preserved from 300 years and inhabitants on Earth can’t get up there and never seen how it looks like up there.

The Movie Alita @animationkolkata

The scrap-yard (massive area of discarded waste from Zalem) surrounded Iron City.

The set was built based on the images of Yukito Kishiro’s graphic novel series Gunnm.

From the scrap-yard Dr. Dyson Ido finds Alita’s head and torso with an intact human brain inside.

The Movie Alita @animationkolkata

During the first week of filming the underwater sequence were shot where Alita enters the crashed warship and discovers Berserker body which she wears later on.

Designing the muscle-driven Berserker body was less complicated for the VFX artists, they filled the muscles and arms with fibrous strands.

Lighting effect on Berserker body was a bit difficult part; Alita’s arms went shiny to dark depending on reflections when she walked through the room.

Animation team led by Mike Cozens key framed the key poses that Robert did for the film.

The Movie Alita @animationkolkata

The Badlands wilderness was in contrast to Iron City; Badlands were shot somewhere near South America.

Director Robert Rodriguez did a lot of initial planning and storyboards for the outstanding visuals of this film Alita: Battle Angel.

Lot of inspiration were taken from poses and weapons of the characters featured in the original Manga.

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