Union VFX - The Take

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Union Helps Build the Tension in Idris Elba Thriller, The Take

As sole VFX vendor, Union was involved on The Take throughout the entire production process, completing more than 350 shots. The work covered a broad spectrum of “invisible effects”, such as architectural extensions, crowd multiplication, and the addition of vehicles, props and gore. Union’s input also included stunt-augmentation effects on driving sequences, explosions and shootouts.

Simon Hughes, lead VFX supervisor on the film, said: The Take is a great example of how the Union team plays to its strengths in collaboration with directors and producers. But we also had a huge amount of fun with this film. It’s packed with adrenalin and big action moments, which are challenging to do well from a VFX perspective but amazing when you pull them off.

Directed by James Watkins, the fast-moving thriller features several high-octane scenes, including a vertiginous chase sequence in which stunt doubles are seen running across a partially built rooftop in Paris. In addition to adding the peripheral architecture, vehicles, props and people, Union also helped infuse the sequence with a greater sense of danger by scaling out the original plates to make them appear wider, and adding hand-held camera movements to exaggerate the feeling of vertigo. 

One of the pivotal moments of the movie is a massive bomb explosion at a Paris Metro station. Union turned a practical detonation into a major explosion using a series of CG generated elements. It also intensified the drama of the moment by bringing the explosion much closer to the actors and camera, and adding lethal debris, such as flying postcard racks, a smashed park bench and extensive rubble. 

During the closing moments of The Take, a mass riot starts outside a bank. London’s National Maritime Museum in Greenwich stood in for the bank, and 200 extras were drafted in to provide the rioting crowd. The extras were filmed in a tiling formation so that they could be composited together as one group. The museum’s architecture, meanwhile, needed to be extended and remodelled to make it appear more like a bank within a central city location. To create a “bigger” cinematic moment and to make sense geographically of the police’s arrival at the scene by helicopter, Union created a full CG aerial view of the huge crowds surrounding the bank. 

The team had to create detailed set extensions that stood up from every angle with the riot also requiring the transformation of a limited number of extras shot in London into a much larger group of protesters who riot in Paris. Close collaboration between Simon and I from the outset ensured we made adequate provision during shooting on location to allow the team to deliver great, believable results. They really pulled it off. Tim, Adam, Simon and the whole Union team were true creative partners. James Watkins, Director of The Take

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