After the critical and commercial success of the 2016 effective thriller, Don’t Breathe, we now have Don’t Breathe 2. The film opened two weeks ago with Stephen Lang (Avatar), reprising his role as Norman Nordstrom / “The Blind Man,” with Brendan Sexton III and Madelyn Grace in supporting roles.
VFX Legion delivered 100+ visual effects for director Rodo Savagues’ action thriller, Don’t Breathe 2. released theatrically on August 13th. The franchise was born from the creative partnership of Savagues and Fede Alvarez, the director of the highly successful first installment.
In the original film, three men break into the home of the blind man, Norman Nordstrom (Lang) expecting an easy score. Instead, they’re slaughtered by a combat-trained veteran with acutely heightened senses. The sequel picks up the story six years later, with Lang, reprising his role.
Now living in isolation with an orphaned girl he took in, their quiet existence is shattered when the child is kidnapped. Using his formable skills, the protagonist sets out to rescue the girl – and take revenge on her captors. Watch the breakdown reel below:
Pretty cool! Twenty-three visual effects were key to bringing co-writers Savagues and Alvare’s vision of the sequel to life. Complex computer-generated sequences and digital shots were relied on to augment imagery captured on practical footage – elevating the visceral emotions elicited by the atmospheric thriller.
Shot in Belgrade, Serbia, and Detroit in the fall of 2020, the pandemic slowed down production of the film considerably. A looming release date put pressure on postproduction. When it became clear that the original visual effects vendor lacked the resources to meet the film’s needs, shots were spread out among numerous visual effect companies. Legion was asked to bid on 30+ effects and initially awarded just a handful of the most complex shots.
Within days of beginning the job, the studio began contacting Legion to bid on more work. The company was awarded nearly all the effects for a big sequence that called for a variety of complex effects. Working as a collaborative team, created raging fires, time warps, fluid dynamics, split screens, and CG muzzle flashes, along with other shots required for the scene.
“The quality of the intricate, multi-layered shots that we produced exceeded the client’s expectations, dramatically elevating the look of the original digital effects while meeting a tight deadline,” notes James David Hattin, Legion’s Founder and VFX Supervisor. “Our initial work on the film gave us the opportunity to earn the client’s trust which led to Legion being brought on board as one of the primary visual effects vendors and ultimately, delivering over 100 shots for the film.”
The massive opening shot of the movie, well over 1500 frames long, incorporates a wide range of effects. Legion created a fully CG double of an actress, custom graffiti, computer-generated overgrown foliage, and integrated digital elements into the footage.
The film includes 40 digitally ignited fire sequences in total. The complexity and dynamics of these effects would have made building them from scratch a costly and time-consuming process. VFX Legion’s association with ActionVFX, a stock visual effect company with a vast archive, enabled its team to provide an efficient alternative. Artists found stock fires that were the right fit for all but one of the 40 shots. Legion’s team digitally augmented the stock elements to work with the practical footage, seamlessly blending them into the film.
During one scene the protagonist sets a house on fire, with some digital help. Towards the end of the movie, Nordstrom is desperately trying to find a way out of that house as the intensity of the CG flames grows, virtually consuming the structure. Using Autodesk’s Maya, artists digitally crumble the floors as The Blind Man makes his way through the flames and embers to a window and dives out, escaping the inferno.
“The client was also thrilled with the ongoing immediate access they had to Legion’s team. The level of communications that we considered essential to our brand of visual effect services was a game-changer for the production,” says Hattin, “It made working with us a seamless, stress-free experience while maximizing efficiency and fast-tracking deliverables. Rodo was several continents and time zones away but was always available to give us feedback responsively to make the final shots better than ever.”
Don’t Breathe 2 is currently in theaters.
TITLE: ‘Don’t Breathe 2’ (2021)
Genre: Feature Film
Release Date: August 13, 2021
Rodo Sayagues – Director
Written by: Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues
PRODUCTION COMPANIES: Screen Gems (presents)Stage 6 Films (presents)Ghost House Pictures (in association with)Bad HombreSony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions (SPWA)
- Produced by:Fede Alvarez – producer
- Joseph Drake – executive producer
- Rick Jacobson – executive producer
- Nathan Kahane – executive producer
- Christopher Landry – associate producer
- Andrew Pfeffer – executive producer
- Sam Raimi – producerRob Tapert – producer
- Erin Westerman – executive producer
- Stephen Lang – executive producer
- Pedro Luque – cinematographer
- Jan Kovac – editorMusic by – Roque Baños
- Brianna Domont – visual effects executive
VISUAL EFFECTS: VFX Legion LA/B.C.
- Reid Burns – visual effects executive producer: VFX Legion
- Rommel S. Calderon – cg supervisor: VFX Legion
- Ruy Delgado – tracking artist: VFX Legion
- Chris Derochie – senior animator: VFX Legion
- Eric Ebling – cg artist: VFX Legion
- Nick Guth – digital compositor: VFX Legion
- H Haden Hammond – digital compositor: VFX Legion
- James David Hattin – visual effects supervisor: VFX Legion
- Matthias Lowry – digital compositor: VFX Legion
- Brad Moylan – digital compositor: VFX Legion
- Matthew Noren – visual effects coordinator: VFX Legion
- Eugen Olsen – digital compositor: VFX Legion
- Rafael Perez – digital compositor: VFX Legion
- Chris Pettigrew – digital compositor: VFX Legion
- Nate Smalley – visual effects producer: VFX Legion
- Norie Varga – digital compositor: VFX Legion
- Sebastian Weber – senior animator: VFX Legion
VFX STOCK FOOTAGE: ActionVFX /LA