Digital Domain Seamlessly Stitches Together a Chaotic 22-Minute Oner for Netflix’s film Extraction 2
The award-winning Digital Domain team completed all the transitions, traditional VFX work, and the invisible effects required for the three sequences that comprise the film’s oner.
After barely surviving the events that occurred in the original Extraction and becoming a recluse, Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) is quickly forced out of retirement in the sequel produced by Netflix and the Russo Brothers' production company, AGBO. Rake is sent on a mission to help a mother, Ketevan Radiani (Tinatin Dalakishvili), and her two children escape from the Tkachiri Prison, where they are being unwillingly held by her husband, Davit Radiani (Tornike Bziava), the leader of a vicious Nagazi crime gang. This is where Digital Domain was called in. The award-winning visual effects studio was tasked with the challenge of creating an unforgettable and immersive 22-minute oner, which includes a prison escape, a car chase, and a train crash sequence. For the oner, the talented team of artists seamlessly stitched together 99 individual shots piece by piece for the thrilling and action-packed Extraction 2.
The Prison Escape
Rake enters the prison from an underground tunnel and finds the mother and her two children in a prison cell. They almost immediately get spotted by one of the inmates, and soon, the entire prison is filled with commotion and clamor. It’s announced that there has been a security breach, and the action begins as Rake tries to safely get the family out of the prison.
To complete the electrifying and lengthy oner, Netflix and the Russo brothers called on Digital Domain Visual Effects Supervisor Jean-Luc Dinsdale and leaned on his experience from his work on the recently completed oner featured in episode 103 of the Marvel Studios series Loki. Due to the dynamic action and constantly-moving, chaotic handheld camera in this sequence, the methodology required to complete the transitions was unique to every single transition, but Jean-Luc and his team were up for the task. “Each transition required a combination of plate retiming, performer manipulation, and background replacement - most often all three - in order to make the transitions smooth and not distract the audience's attention from the action,” said the award-winning VFX supervisor. “I am proud of the team’s phenomenal work, including all the behind-the-scenes and invisible effects work that went into executing each one of the shots for the film,” Dinsdale continued.
The Car Chase
Rake successfully gets the children out of the prison and then reaches the courtyard, where the chaos resumes as he tries to find a way out for himself and Ketevan. The two enter a battlefield as a prison riot begins and fight themselves out of the prison with the help of Rake’s handler, Nik Khan (Golshifteh Farahani), and her brother Yaz (Adam Bessa). As they try to make it to safety, they find themselves in a car chase and another gunfight, this time through the forests of Georgia.
The dynamic, evolving damage to the hero vehicles during the car chase sequence proved to be another challenge for Digital Domain’s VFX team. After initial testing, the Digital Domain team quickly retooled the project’s vehicle damage pipeline to incorporate dynamic FX destruction, animated over time to match the action on screen, which then got baked into multiple iterations of the CG car models for continuity. Different portions of the vehicles were rendered in multiple dynamic lighting environments in order to mimic the proper light refraction and reflections within the damaged portion of the car windows and the multiple layers of bulletproof glass. Due to the intricate nature of the work, this portion alone of the car sequence took two and a half months to perfect.
The Train Crash
Rake, Nik, Yaz, and Ketevan and her children get forced out of their vehicles and run for cover in a nuclear power plant. The chase quickly continues as the team boards a train and races across the countryside while Rake fights off pursuing helicopters. Through a barrage of gunfire and explosions, gunmen exit one of the helicopters and make their way onto the train in search of the group. The extraction team fights them off in multiple brutal and vicious fights inside and outside the traveling train. Finally, Rake manages to take down the last helicopter before the train ultimately derails and crashes at a port facility.
The Digital Domain team was tasked with the destruction of the pursuing helicopters and for the ultimate crash and destruction of the runaway train, as well as supporting all the action taking place inside and outside the train. Numerous transitions were required to blend the exterior train shots, shot on location, with the interior train shots, completed on a bluescreen stage, as Rake runs from the outside of the train back inside to prepare the family for the crash. Transitions for these shots relied heavily on selectively patching different parts of the plate photography together with CG elements created by the Digital Domain team, including animated CG characters, CG background replacements, and both CG models and 2D environment patches for the interior and exterior of the train cars. Digital Domain artists also relit shots and added interactive FX elements to support all the action in the sequence.
Environments and Invisible Effects
In addition to these tentpole moments, an incredible amount of talent was also poured into the backgrounds of all three sequences by Digital Domain’s Environments team. The VFX studio’s FX team was also tasked with executing an extensive list of "invisible effects" FX elements to enhance practically every shot in the oner.
Additionally, Digital Domain’s Digital Human Group applied the studio’s proprietary Charlatan face replacement technology in a handful of shots, while Digital Domain’s postviz team was tasked with flushing out the details for the epic train crash at the end of the oner.
Extraction 2 marks the second project of the year in which Digital Domain has collaborated with the Russo Brothers. Extraction 2 is now available on Netflix.