Vancouver, BC – Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr. lead an ensemble cast in DreamWorks Pictures’ “Tropic Thunder,” an action comedy about a group of self-absorbed actors who set out to make the biggest war film ever. After ballooning costs (and the out of control egos of the pampered cast) threaten to shut down the movie, the frustrated director refuses to stop shooting, leading his cast deep into the jungles of Southeast Asia for “increased realism,” where they inadvertently encounter real bad guys. CIS Visual Effects Group’s Vancouver, London and Hollywood facilities were called upon to support the action of this hilarious ‘movie within a movie’.
“We first got involved while Ben was still shooting in Kauai,” says CIS Vancouver’s visual effects supervisor Mark Breakspear. “Our team handled the war scenes which necessitated generating everything from CG planes and helicopters and digital doubles to exploding debris and crashing helicopters, matte paintings and set extensions of jungle camps, to bullet hits, hand grenades and flame throwers. The work was quite challenging, especially as we knew there are subtle differences in creating visual effects for comedies than for other films,”
CIS Vancouver handled the most complex of the visual effects work in “Tropic Thunder,” which released on August 13th. Originally the sole vendor, the facility concentrated on the complicated war scenes, the mistaken explosion of a cocaine factory, the Flaming Dragon Compound sequence and the opening scenario – the Hot Landing Zone – which is a fake landing area made for the fake ‘movie’. They also completed 20 additional shots for the movie’s DVD release.
Also contributing to “Tropic Thunder,” CIS Hollywood handled the production of the Scorcher sequence, a 90 second entirely CG spoof trailer that explains Ben Stiller’s character within the movie. Scorcher was a truly collaborative process with CIS Vancouver creating the original previz and CIS Hollywood producing the final sequence with CIS London’s collaboration. Visual effects supervisor, Bryan Hirota, who oversaw CIS Hollywood’s work, adds, “The Scorcher was a long and intricate CG sequence, but the team had fun with it despite the challenges.”
Michael Fink served as the film’s overall visual effects supervisor. “After the complexity of the fantastical imagery in my last project – ‘The Golden Compass’ – I thought ‘Tropic Thunder’ would be a breath of fresh air,” remembers Fink. “But as I got involved, I discovered this was just as challenging a visual effects project as that had been. The only difference being that if we did a good job, no one would ever notice. This was my first out and out real comedy and I really enjoyed it. The teams at the CIS facilities handled some of the most challenging work, and thoroughly contributed to the successful look of the movie.”
DreamWorks Pictures Presents A Red Hour Production A Ben Stiller Film “Tropic Thunder” starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Steve Coogan, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Brandon T. Jackson, Bill Hader and Nick Nolte. The film is directed by Ben Stiller from a screenplay by Justin Theroux & Ben Stiller and Etan Cohen. The story is by Ben Stiller & Justin Theroux. The film is produced by Stuart Cornfeld, Ben Stiller and Eric McLeod. The executive producer is Justin Theroux. The director of photography is John Toll, ASC. The production designer is Jeff Mann. The film is edited by Greg Hayden. The costume designer is Marlene Stewart. The music score is by Theodore Shapiro. The music supervisor is George Drakoulias. This film has been rated R for pervasive language including sexual references, violent content and drug material.
Current and recently completed CIS Vancouver work includes “Angels and Demons,” “Changeling,” “Twilight,” “Space Buddies,” “Nutcracker: The Untold Story,” “The Uninvited,” “They Came from Upstairs,” and “Case 39.” CIS Hollywood’s current and recent project list includes “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” “Watchmen,” “G.I. Joe,” “The Goods: The Don Ready Story,” “The Informant,” “Meet Dave” and “Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.” CIS London is working on “Inkheart,” “Nutcracker: The Untold Story,” “Slumdog Millionaire” and “44 Inch Chest.” Recent projects include “Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” and “Vantage Point”.
CIS Visual Effects Group is an award winning international visual effects entity with facilities in Hollywood, Vancouver and London. The company services high-end feature film, television, commercial and gaming clients in the global marketplace. Founded in 1984, CIS is one of the industry’s most respected visual effects facilities and in early 2008 the company expanded by acquiring Rainmaker Visual Effects and is now comprised of CIS Hollywood, CIS Vancouver and CIS London. With its unique global footprint and boutique accessibility, the company has the capacity to service its clientele wherever production is situated. CIS Visual Effects Group is a division of Deluxe Entertainment Services Group Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc.