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Mr. X Creates Climactic Car Chase for ''Four Brothers''

Effects Studio Brings a New Spin to Paramount Action Thriller (August 16, 2005)

TORONTO, Ontario.  -- Visual effects studio Mr. X takes the audience for a ride in the climactic car chase of the new Paramount Pictures action thriller Four Brothers. Created for the film's acclaimed director, John Singleton, the sequence is an action packed blend of digital effects and live action.

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Garrett Hedlund, and Andre Benjamin, Four Brothers is the kind of gripping urban drama acclaimed director John Singleton is known for. The story follows four men who band together to uncover the mystery behind the death of the woman who raised them -- and to exact vengeance on the killers. 

Amidst a howling snowstorm, the brothers, with Bobby (Mark Wahlberg) at the wheel, race after their suspects at breakneck speed down the backstreets of Detroit.  Mr. X worked with the filmmakers to design and plan the complicated sequence, generating elaborate pre-visualizations for each shot.

"Our most rewarding experiences at Mr. X come when we partner with the filmmakers at the earliest conceptual stage to help design and shape the execution of complex effects sequences," explains Dennis Berardi, VFX Supervisor for the film. "On Brothers, we had the  opportunity to work closely with the production team to create meticulously accurate pre-visualization for the sequence. Through this we were able to assist the director to choreograph the action, uncover filming challenges, and develop a complete filming solution down to each camera lens and position well before shooting began."

Weather continuity emerged as one of the key challenges of the shoot.  The team at Mr. X is no stranger to digitally enhanced weather though, having effectively tackled nearly 300 shots for Assault on Precinct 13 (2005), the previous year.  Utilizing photographed elements of a real blizzard as well as computer-generated snow, Mr. X was able to turn a production's uncooperative mild weather into a believable winter, digitally enhancing and integrating a snowy, wintry atmosphere into the action of Four Brothers. These snow effects included blizzard elements and snow particles, snow banks, debris, as well as visible breath elements.

While the snow surely added a lot of excitement to the sequence, a car chase wouldn't be complete without a dramatic crash.  In this case, the crash was tightly choreographed so it was decided that a completely computer-generated car would be used for several shots.

Mr. X has built a reputation for photo-realistic CGI and this project was no exception. Berardi cites their attention to detail as the key to their success, "Our artists used the original car manufacturer specifications in modeling all of the vehicles involved. Textures, reflections, and other tiny imperfections posed the greatest challenges to realism, but 17 layers of rendering later, our digital vehicles fool even the most experienced eye."

The filmmakers were thrilled with the end result, which may be the most recognition the visual effects team receives.  Berardi remarks, "If we've done our job right, the audience will be caught up in the action and won't even notice we were there!"

On Four Brothers, the Mr. X team was led by Visual Effects Supervisor Dennis Berardi, along with Senior Technical Director Colin Withers, CG Supervisor Sean Cohen and Compositing Supervisor Aaron Weintraub, along with Lead Compositor Kristy Blackwell.   Artists used such tools as Alias Wavefront's Maya, RenderMan, Deep Paint 3D, and MentalRay for the 3D work, Shake, Flame, and Inferno for compositing, and PhotoShop for some subtle 2D elements.

Mr. X continues to build upon its successful track record of partnering with filmmakers to create story-driven visual effects, as seen in Assault on Precinct 13, Ice Princess, Dawn of the Dead (2004) and Resident Evil: Apocalypse, as well as dozens more. Upcoming projects for Mr. X include such anticipated titles as The Greatest Game Ever Played, A History of Violence, Truth, Justice and the American Way, Revolver, and Silent Hill: Centralia.

Paramount Pictures presents Four Brothers, an action-packed urban drama directed by John Singleton and starring Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin, and Garrett Hedlund. Four Brothers was directed by Singleton from a screenplay by David Elliot & Paul Lovett, and is produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura and executive produced by Ric Kidney.  The film is scheduled for U.S. release on August 12.

Who is Mr. X?
Bringing together a unique mix of artists, filmmakers, VFX supervisors, and programmers, Mr. X specializes in partnering with filmmakers to provide story-driven visual enhancements. The artists and creative minds at Mr. X are known for their superb, photo-realistic achievements in CGI, their skills in digital matte painting, VFX compositing, and Post/VFX supervision, as well as for their realistic digital creations of epic-scale and otherwise impossible stunts.  With a studio equipped with a rare mix of the latest imaging technologies, the team at Mr. X is committed to pushing the limits of the digital realm, and in making the impossible, possible. 

With credits on dozens of distinguished projects including Ice Princess, Assault on Precinct 13, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Dawn of the Dead (2004), Wrong Turn, Blizzard, Ararat, The Sweet Hereafter and many more, Mr. X helps to define the very look and feel of a film. 

For more information on Mr. X, please visit their website at, or for pictures or interviews, please contact Dennis Berardi at (416) 595-6222, or via e-mail at [email protected].

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Related Keywords:Mr. X , Four Brothers, digital effects, John Singleton, visual effects, studio, pre-visualizations


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