The Invasion

ROLE: Flame Artist | VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Hydraulx
CLIENT: Warner Bros.
DIRECTOR: Oliver Hirschbiegel

The work I did on “The Invasion” represented a late-breaking challenge that arrived somewhat unexpectedly, all due to eleventh hour studio notes. Towards the end of the schedule, the decision was made to forgo the practical makeup that had been approved and shot during production. This involved all the facial and hand appliances for the film’s signature snatcher skin, necessitating a complete removal and subsequent replacement, with newly designed CG elements.

Fortunately, I wasn’t involved in the removal and clean-up of the practically shot appliances. However, I did have to track and comp a number of CG replacement snatcher elements onto Nicole Kidman’s perfectly smooth cheeks and hands – all without the aid of any tracking markers.

The CG elements that were ultimately provided did manage to get the matchmove in the general ballpark, which for wide-shots, wasn’t too problematic. But for the mid and close-ups, that was another story. Due to the scene’s dramatic requirements, Nicole was moving her head frantically, having just awoken from unconsciousness, panicked at the unknown state of her son.

Had this shot been done today, the matchmove probably would’ve been spot-on, thanks to a number of tracking software innovations. But when this film was made, it came down to brute force, as well as long hours, to get the tracks to stick, utilizing hand-animated countermoves and extensive bicubic warping.