How 'Walter Mitty's' VFX Artists Created a Ruptured Manhattan Roadway
VANCOUVER -- Ben Stiller's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the second film inspired by James Thurber's 1939 short story, pushed reality to the outlandishly impossible.
"Beautified reality" is how Desiree Ryden, an FX technical director at MPC in Vancouver, describes audiences experiencing reality as fantasy in the live-action comedy.
"It's over-the-top and yet photo real," she told The Hollywood Reporter after taking part in a panel at Spark FW 2014 on the visual effects in the 20th Century Fox remake of the 1947 film.
That blend of reality and fantasy sits well with Ryden as Stiller in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty plays a meek man prone to imagining himself in fantastical worlds.
The theme of the imagination's liberating power is seen in a dream sequence completed by MPC visual artists in Vancouver, where Stiller and Adam Scott, who plays a corporate shark, snowboards on the streets of New York City.
In the two-minute scene, Mitty fantasizes the snowboard-like duel after his nemesis talks about job cuts.
For the MPC visual effects team, the challenge was to churn up the concrete roadway with sparks and a dust trail as the two characters battle in traffic.
"Sometimes reality is not that interesting, so you have to add a Hollywood kaboom for thrills," MPC FX technical director Alex Ouzande explained of the need for the beautified reality.
Getting the Manhattan road surface to rupture as the snowboarders moved through it called for the use of MPC's destruction proprietary software Kali.
To secure the debris and dust effects from the street surfing scene, MPC technicians also used Papi and Flowline software.
The Spark FW 2014 conference continues through Saturday in Vancouver.