Modus FX sets scene for 'The American'

Montreal's Modus FX recently delivered all of the visual effects for Anton Corbijn's "The American."

The thriller, which stars George Clooney, tells the story of a man who makes weapons for assassins trying to escape from his past. Set in Italy, where the protagonist has come for his final assignment, the film features lush landscapes and evocative small-town settings. In all, Modus completed 125 shots for the film, many of which were technically and artistically demanding.

Modus was originally hired to complete two key visual-effects sequences in the film. The first involved digitally restoring a church tower, which was damaged in the 2008 earthquake in Italy. The second sequence featured a CG butterfly.

Work on the church required digitally removing elaborate wooden scaffolding and replicating the pre-earthquake state of the structure. Modus created a 3D model of the tower. That made it possible to use additional instances of the model when new establishing shots of the tower were added later during editing on the film. The photo-real CG butterfly appears in a number of shots, including several where it is expertly composited onto a fuzzy cashmere sweater.

The director and the studio were delighted with the results of the work on those two sequences and Modus began receiving new shots, which the director wanted to fine-tune in various ways.