‘Max Manus’ VFX recreates 1940s Oslo

New Norwegian film “Max Manus” achieves its historically authentic flavor thanks to visual effects that transformed modern-day Oslo into a 1940s version of itself.

Directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, “Max Manus” tells the story of the famous saboteur who fought the Nazis during the German occupation of Norway in World War II. Produced for $8 million, the film provides a big budget experience due to its brilliant production team and high-end tools, such as eyeon Software’s Fusion.

Besides the historical transformation of Oslo, VFX shots included the sinking of the SS Donau, an authentic recreation of Oslo harbor, bomber aircraft flying overhead and exterior shots, such as the Gestapo headquarters at the Victoria Terrace.

Five graphics facilities in Norway worked on the visual effects, said VFX supervisor Oystein Larsen of Toxic in Oslo. Lab work was done in Germany and final grading at MPC in London. “To ensure we kept all the image data, we built a floating-point pipeline, anchored in Fusion," he said.

Working against a tight deadline required an efficient pipeline. Routine tasks, such as rotoscoping, tracking and keying, were done in-house at production company Filmkameratene. "The plates were then sent out to the other facilities for the artistic work," said Marcus Brodersen, VFX and editor on the movie.

One particularly difficult scene depicts a raid on German shipping, which was shot on water at night. "Fortunately, we had done accurate pre-viz modeling based on lidar scans beforehand," Larsen said. "We used the 3-D mapping in Fusion to take the shots apart and add the CG elements, such as matte painting. The results were fantastic. No one would ever think this was a composite."

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