X-Men First Class is the prequel film that blew away audiences around the globe earlier this year – so when 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment invited us to an exclusive media event for their Australian Blu-ray launch of the movie this week, we quickly accepted!
The event took place at an appropriate location at Sydney’s Darling Harbour, aboard the naval ship HMAS Vampire – in homage to the amazing visual effects during the naval battle scene at the climax of the film. The highlight of the event would be a live Skype chat with two-time Oscar®-winning visual effects supervisor John Dykstra (of Star Wars fame).
On Blu-ray, X-Men First Class looks simply spectacular. The whole package is impressive, and it’s not just because it features some genuinely great bonus material and interactive features – like Cerebro – the interactive mutant tracker that lets you classify all of the different mutant characters spanning all of the X-Men films ( including their abilities and connections to each other). The Blu-ray also offers incredible value for purchase, shipping with bonus DVD and digital copies (for mobile devices).
It all comes back to the film itself though, and half the reason why X-Men First Class is such a great movie is because of the amazing job that John Dykstra did with the visual effects. I had the opportunity to ask John a burning question in regards to my favourite scene from the film
Nino: John, my favourite shot in the film was when Magneto is shown to levitate an entire submarine clear out of the ocean in broad daylight. It’s mesmerising to watch – could you describe what was involved in creating that entire sequence?
John: Well first, we decided that there was a shot that you’d like best, so we set to figuring out how to make it. So it was you – you were the genesis of that shot! (laughs) Seriously though, obviously there were some pretty weird constraints on this particular shot. The idea that Magneto was going to levitate this vehicle that weighs thousands of tonnes, and displaces a huge amount of seawater, all in a very limited amount of time – it was one of the biggest challenges of the shot. Simply making the submarine come out of the water, and running the water simulations around it was something that we already knew how to do. The really difficult part was figuring out how to make the scene move fast enough, and be exciting and dynamic, but at the same time have ‘scale’, so that it didn’t feel as though it was a bath toy being lifted out of a bath tub. We worked extensively on the dynamics of the water, the specularity, how big the reflections were, and how ‘bright’ they were. Also, we considered how the wind and other air currents moved the water around. That’s what gave the shot a sort of a ‘lacy’ feel. There was movement as the spray came off the sub – it was blowing to one side. These were all the things that gave it a proper scale…or a scale at least, that was believable. It was a lot of fun working on it, the guys at WETA studios did that shot for us, they did a terrific job, and it was a huge number of layers on the shot, something like twenty layers of spray alone (before we even get to the actual water). And then just finally, because we’re working in the digital age, we now have the added benefit of trying out many different angles to find the best perspective for the shot, and so we find what eventually looks best.
X-Men First Class is now available to own on Blu-ray & DVD. (Note: submarine not included!)