eyeon Fusion Brings 'Max Manus' to the Big Screen
Max Manus represents a breakthrough in Norwegian cinema, and compositing application eyeon Fusion played a key role in the success of the production. 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 the Second World War. Produced at a cost of about $8 million (55,000,000 Norwegian Kroner), the film provides a big-budget experience thanks to a brilliant production team and high-end tools including eyeon Fusion.
Max Manus is one of the largest productions in Norwegian film history. The project involved transforming modern-day Oslo into a 1940s version of itself and filling the city with hundreds of Nazi soldiers. In total, 1,800 extras were used for the film. Visual effects shots included the sinking of the SS Donau, an authentic re-creation of Oslo harbor, bomber aircraft flying overhead, and exterior shots, such as the Gestapo headquarters at the Victoria Terrace.
"Because of the scale of the visual effects work we needed to do, this film was the first domestic production to farm out shots across multiple facilities," explains VFX Supervisor Oystein Larsen of Toxic A/S in Oslo, who honed his craft on the Matrix sequels. "Lab work was done in Germany, final grading was done at MPC in London, and in between we had five facilities here in Norway on visual effects. To ensure we kept all the image data, we built a floating-point pipeline, anchored in Fusion."
"We chose Fusion because it's the complete package," explains Marcus Brodersen, VFX and post producer on Max Manus. "With a limited budget, we needed the full feature set of a mature application." Working against a tight deadline required an efficient pipeline. Routine tasks such as roto, tracking and keying were done in-house at Filmkameratene, the production company.
"The plates were then sent out to the other facilities for the artistic work," adds Brodersen. "Fusion was the common element, and it worked really well as a collaborative tool."
Fusion's 3D environment proved critical for the project. "There was only one locked shot in the whole movie," laughs Brodersen. "The FBX input sped up our work a lot, and one facility, Gimpville, even used Fusion to stabilize a whole sequence by mapping the camera positions and then 're-shooting' the whole take in Fusion!"
One particularly difficult scene—depicting a raid on German shipping—was shot on water at night. "Fortunately, we had done accurate pre-vis modeling based on LIDAR scans beforehand," explains Oystein Larsen. "We used the 3D 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."
"It was really exciting to work on this project: this is a story we feel quite strongly about here in Norway," says Larsen. Clearly the public shares his sentiment. The opening weekend box office returns for Max Manus in December set a new record in Norway, and attendance is currently on track to surpass Titanic as the Nordic nation's highest-grossing film.
"It doesn't always take a huge budget to make a great feature film," says Joanne Dicaire, director of sales and marketing at eyeon. "With great artists and the right tools, it can be done without breaking the bank. We're delighted to have contributed to this milestone in Norwegian cinema."