Visual Effects
Visual Effects by Scott Forslund
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The Visual Effects for "Lie Detector" presented many challenges. From designing an authentic mission in an F-15 fighter jet to a free solo climb of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, authenticity was the goal. Scott Forslund created or supervised over 600 visual effects for the film. Seen here at Yosemite National Park (with Half Dome in the distance), Scott shot hours of additional footage and thousands of stills following principal photography. With the assistance of climbing advisor Erik Sloan and son Ryan Forslund as photography partners, a vast canvas of the sheer vertical walls of El Capitan was created so David Wellman (RC Everbeck) could scale the world-renowned rock.
The free solo required over 100 visual effects shots that were blended with existing location shots of RC Everbeck in Yosemite. Stunt doubles Erik Sloan and Andy Davis filled in for the more dangerous shots with the remainder handled using green screen elements. Below is one of the many shots created by Scott for the sequence. To make it appear as if David has just topped a major rock formation on El Capitan, footage of RC Everbeck shot at Vasquez Rocks State Park was combined with location footage.
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Below is the F-15 flown by the two stars of the film, RC Everbeck and Richard Topping. It was featured in a sequence during the early years of their characters' friendship. One of 70-plus shots for the sequence, this rear view was comprised of a digital jet designed by Neil Blume, then animated in 3D by Jon Whisman. The sky background with moon and stars was created by Scott Forslund. In all, some 25 layers went into the composition of this shot and included the jet, which was a series of layers depicting its painted surface, moon reflection, afterburners, afterburner heat waves, and various background sky elements that included a graduated night sky, twinkling stars, moon, moon glow and two layers of drifting clouds.
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In another still of Scott at right, he's seen in the cockpit of a decommissioned F-15 being turned into a flight simulator by designer Gene Buckle. Used mostly for cockpit POV's, the footage added basic realism right down to the well worn paint on the instrument panels.
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Other sequences required far fewer shots and included the typical erasure of corporate logos, mic boom shadows and other distracting elements within scenes. A more dramatic shot of lightning over Portland at night, and its layer by layer breakdown, is shown below.
The first frame shows the basic city at night image. A daytime still was used so details could be darkened and lightened interactively with the lightning strike. Clouds in the daytime shot were removed so all that remains is a silhouette. The gray background is a basic layer added in After Effects to help show how this shot was accomplished.







An alpha, which is a layer with a transparent background, was the next layer. It added city lights over the silhouette element.












A stock lightning shot was added next.













Then more lights were layered over to give the city a realistic look.













An additional cloud element was layered over the stock shot to give it more detail. Its lighting level was adjusted frame by frame to match the intensity of the lightning.








Next, the Willamette River was added. Scott asked Neil Blume to create an interactive, rippling water element that would work with the basic river element originally shot at twilight. Its job was to reflect the lightning on the river. It's seen here as a transparent alpha layer.









The water ripples are more clearly seen once the background is turned black.













And finally, the finished shot after rain and mist have been added.












This is the very next frame in the shot when the lightning becomes even more intense. It shows the city details brightening interactively to complete the effect.
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