Creative Visual Effects Give Frears’ Lance Armstrong Biopic the Winning Edge
Based on the book ‘Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong’ by David Walsh, The Program follows Walsh’s 13-year crusade to uncover the truth about Armstrong and expose him as a drug-taking cheat.
The Tour de France is the world’s largest annual sporting event. In a typical year it attracts 12 million spectators over its 3 weeks along with a worldwide television audience of over 3 billion. Recreating this mass excitement was a big part Union’s work on the project.
Several of the film’s dramatic Alpine cycling sequences, required Union to use their skill to multiply the crowds, expand the peloton and extend the fleet of team cars. The peloton of pro cyclists who provided the live-action elements were supplemented by hundreds of CGI contested created by Golem crowd software.
Another scene sees Armstrong on the winner’s podium on the Champs Elysees in Paris. A set of the podium was built on a bluescreen stage in London’s Ealing studios, where scenes were shot of Armstrong collecting the Tour de France trophy and giving his winner’s speech. Hundreds of stills taken in Paris and maps of the area were then used to build a scale model of the iconic boulevard. The CG environment was precise in every detail, from the Arc de Triomphe right down to phone booths and bus stops.
Adam Gascoyne, lead visual-effects supervisor and co-founder of Union, said: “The Program has been an exciting ride in every sense. It’s a truly great story. Armstrong’s spectacular rise and catastrophic fall were challenging to bring to life convincingly and authentically. It was important to us to do justice to Stephen’s vision and we’re delighted with the result.”