Extract: “Neo vs Smith” — The Matrix Resurrections VFX by RISE

The Illusion Almanac: Creating The Matrix Resurrections - VFX by RISE

In this exclusive extract from The Illusion Almanac: Creating The Matrix Resurrections, RISE visual effects supervisor Andreas Giesen discusses the spectacular fight between Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Agent Smith (Jonathan Groff), for which artists enhanced the action and imbued Smith with classic Matrix superpowers. The RISE team also crafted destruction effects for the shootout at the game development company Deus Machina, and augmented environments for Neo’s meeting with Sati (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) and a flashback to a rooftop party in San Francisco.

Read the full story behind the visual effects of The Matrix Resurrections in Issue 2 of The Illusion Almanac, available now as an 90-page digital magazine formatted for Kindle. Download it from Amazon online stores worldwide — just search for “illusion almanac.” No Kindle? No problem – the Kindle app is free to download for IOS, Android and desktop.

  • The Illusion Almanac: Creating The Matrix Resurrections - VFX by RISE
  • The Illusion Almanac: Creating The Matrix Resurrections - VFX by RISE
  • The Illusion Almanac: Creating The Matrix Resurrections - VFX by RISE

Before long Neo is battling one-on-one against a new incarnation of the franchise’s arch-villain Agent Smith (Jonathan Groff). RISE revisited action motifs from previous Matrix movies including shots of Smith hurling Neo back against a wall and pummelling him with ultra-high-speed blows. Effects artists implemented an effects simulation to spread a network of cracks through the wall, replacing the physical gag used on set with a more art-directed destruction effect resembling a spider’s web.

The production captured live-action plates of Jonathan Groff miming the pummelling action. RISE selected elements from the plates and manipulated them to create the blurry barrage of punches. “It was all achieved using the plates in comp — we didn’t use CG arms,” said Giesen. “We analysed the first Matrix movie frame by frame because it was all about capturing that original timing. We didn’t copy it exactly but went for the same staccato movement. Speeding up the plates just looked funny so instead we would take a part of the plate — just an arm for example — and keyframe-animate the timing for every hit. It involved a lot of rotoscoping because we had many different arms taken from other parts of the plate, or even from a completely different plate.”

RISE also generated the forcefield effect with which Neo finally blasts his opponent aside. “It was important to Dan and Lana that it shouldn’t look like glass or water,” Giesen noted. “They wanted it to feel like the forcefield is pushing around all the little particles in the air. It starts very subtle, until in the end he pushes Smith away with all his power. For that we simulated a big shockwave going through the whole building.”

Extract from The Illusion Almanac: Creating The Matrix Resurrections – now available from Amazon

“The Matrix Resurrections” images © © 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Village Roadshow Films (BVI) Limited. All rights reserved.

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