Firsthand. About “Stalingrad” and visual effects




Firsthand. About “Stalingrad” and visual effects

Recently digital effects “Stalingrad” were included in the list of the most successful this year and marked the professional community. What is not a reason to talk about how they were created? Arman Jachin, visual effects supervisor of the film and CEO VFX-studio Main Road | Post, told us about it.

The overall plan

Общий план

Main Road | Post – one of the famous Russian companies, we have already become parties to large-scale projects. Among them, the English-language Wanted Timur Bekmambetov, “The Seventh Son” by Legendary Pictures and Sergei Bodrov, “August. Eighth, “” Metro “and” Inhabited Island “.
As you can see, we have collaborated with Fyodor Bondarchuk and to “Stalingrad”, so happily took up his war drama.
That was in 2009. It was then Main Road | Post received the first version of the script. Subsequently, he thrashed and subjected to significant changes, so that in fact work on the movie started later (in 2011) and lasted for two years from the first day of shooting before the end of the installation, to virtually “of rental …”

Общий план

All these months we have worked to convey the tragedy of the time, to make the movie real. Special effects assigned a secondary role: primarily required to expand the world created, to give out the action. Despite the fact that we follow the principle of historical accuracy, the goal of making the tape was not a documentary. This feature film: more important to convey the atmosphere, to create an image.
What was not easy: at work on “Stalingrad” was used most used at the present day technology, carried out a vast array of tasks. We “built” the whole city, staged several explosions burned soldiers replaced the sky above them, the extras added to the frames, military equipment.

Furthermore, additional complexity of creating a stereo movie. I had to spend a lot of testing and learning: for us it was the first 3D-project of such volumes.

Close up. Plane


You want to know how to create this or that scene? What, for example? The scene with the incident plane? Theodore S. wanted to hero in the eyes collapsed German Heinkel He 111 bomber. Our guys sat down, made a storyboard, previz, put about 15 cameras (simulated set, it was clear that both the shoot), and began to look for different perspectives. Then called cinematographer Maxim Osadchy and with it selected four long plan depicting how the plane falls.


The main difficulty was that we could not recreate on the set of all planned. The potential of technology is not enough to fully capture the plane hit the ground and goes to the viewer on the background scenery built. This moment had completely passed on to CG.

Everything from a flying airplane, which cuts down the dome theater, to the last second touchdown generate: we had to simulate explosions, fire, how to strike aircraft shatters the soil, then, as the screw cuts the earth, and all covered with dust. We even put a pilot in the cockpit Heinkel He 111, although when you view it difficult to notice. ”

Close up. Action


As such … the battle scenes in the film. But there is a moment when the soldiers while crossing the Germans blew up an oil storage and burning oil poured on climbing the slope of the Soviet soldiers. To display the running baked military took invite stunt … we burned. 125 “burning” of the day, 15 people, while blazing in the frame – this was not anybody. This record numbers. In addition, built scenery, also on fire.



Our goal was to recreate a real hell. Blow up the way I wanted the director, on the set it was impossible, so after we collected the scene, we had to add flames, pieces separated tanks, sparks flying in the air, ash (ash settling gives a good effect, when the movie is shot in format 3D).

This scene, by the way, along with a scene in which the soldiers were ferried across the river, was the most time-consuming – all took about one and a half years.

What was difficult to recreate the crossing? The point is that the plot of soldiers swim to the other shore at dusk, but the scene was shot during the day, based on the subsequent repainting “by night” in post-production. However, surprisingly, in the always gloomy St. Petersburg scorching sun peeped. Require significant color-and svetokorrektsiya adding fog glare on the water, outlines the burning city in the background. It was also necessary to create a digital extras – multiply boat with the soldiers and put them next to the filmed. Make it so that no one noticed the difference.



The second stage, which can be called a battle – one in which the Nazis begin to take home. On the site was removed two tanks, decorated of German – “machine” drove, broke scenery.

We needed to increase the amount of equipment and personnel to expand so that the tanks drove through the ravines, shooting, destroying buildings, and people were wounded, became victims of explosions. This was done.

Say how realistic the fight turned out, I can not, because he was never present at the same time. I can only rely on the reviewed and they are mainly positive, convinced me that we, rather, did everything right, rather than miscalculated. In war, as they say veterans, there are all sorts ….

Close up. City

We worked carefully recreating the look of the city. Group artistic director Sergei Ivanov provided old photographs as a reference, and our modelers created unit destroyed buildings (of character that appear in the film, and vtoroplanovyh that only glimpses of the general background).


There were “been drawn in” about 80 models. Our programmers have done so to the ruins could be changed: somewhere window smashed, brick fell off somewhere, that building is indestructible, but from him almost nothing left, and so on. As a result, we have modified each of the 80 models several times and duplicated house prototypes. Got about 13 000 different buildings.

But we could not leave the city empty: we had an additional “generit” smoke, fires, rubbish lying on the streets. In addition, to create a dramatic effect in all scenes outdoors, we decided to work on the air – that it was oppressive, clothed with heavy layered clouds.


When working on the special effects used equipment that is not very different from home computers – the usual, though quite powerful workstations with 16-48 GB “RAM.”

Software: package Houdini, where we do the assembly stage, dynamics, animation, basic mistakes; package Maya, used to modellingu (in the project, by the way, were involved only two modeler) package Mari – for texturing. Used for the compositing package Nuke, and simulations for water – Naiad.

Like all VFX-studios, we have a render farm, block machines, assembled in the cabinet (a total of about three hundred cores – not news that compared with farms Western studios, of course).
Constantly worked on the film 25 people basic composition Main Road | Post, plus 25 people from third-party companies to join the team in the last three months.

The scene after the credits

We dorisovyvali scenery in some scenes. For example, early in the film, in the scene with the Japanese city destroyed in a frame with German students, lying beneath the ruins, we had dorisovyvat everything that was above the level of the camera because the camera ruins real push was impossible.

Recorded Anna Kirikova

Images courtesy of Studio Main Road | Post. All rights to images © Art Pictures Studio, Non-stop production
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