A third act confrontation in Niki Caro’s The Mother, now streaming on Netflix, called for the titular character (played by Jennifer Lopez) and her daughter Zoe (Lucy Paez) to face off against several mercenaries in the Alaskan snow.
This included some dynamic snowmobile action, and even a moment when a bomb resting on a snowmobile launches into a cabin and explodes.
Working with visual effects supervisor John Berton Jr., Luma Pictures was given a number of VFX tasks for the snow-bound climax. The studio would help orchestrate the scene of the snowmobile heading across the ice towards the cabin, while also augmenting a practical cabin explosion.
Furthermore, they enhanced a number of chase moments, implemented some blood splatter consistency, and provided several invisible effects shots–one of which proved to be one of the toughest on the show–to help deliver crucial action beats.
befores & afters asked Luma Pictures visual effects producer Michael Perdew and visual effects supervisor Jared Simeth to break down the work.
b&a: Could I get a general overview of what Luma Pictures was called on to do for the film?
Michael Perdew (visual effects producer, Luma Pictures): We were called in to help out with the third act, for the snowmobile chase. Our big sequence is the snowmobile drifting across the icy lake and then exploding into the cabin. Then we took on all the rest of the shots in that sequence. The Mother kills one of the mercenaries and then puts on that person’s snowsuit, which has blood on it. We had to add that blood into all the shots. Then there’s a bunch of muzzle flashes, snow kick-ups and just good old violence–all the fun stuff.
b&a: When you’re coming on board like that, after principal photography, what’s the first thing that you have to do in terms of breaking down shots or getting turnovers?
Jared Simeth (visual effects supervisor, Luma Pictures): They had a postvis done when we came on board, so they had very rough versions of what they wanted. Sometimes they’re very tied to it and sometimes it’s a placeholder. I looked at the postvis and then would go over it with the production-side VFX supervisor, asking, ‘What elements did you shoot that we can use versus where do we need to go CG?’
A big part for them was trying to make it as ‘invisible’ as possible, in terms of the visual effects. So, a lot of it was trying to find out how much we could use of things that they did shoot, and augment it, versus completely replacing things.
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