THE EXPENDABLES 3: Dan Levitan – VFX Supervisor – Hammerhead

Last year, Dan Levitan had explained to us in detail the work of Hammerhead on GANGSTER SQUAD. He then worked on the effects of THE HANGOVER PART III and HEAVEN IS FOR REAL.

How did you got involved on this show?
We were given the opportunity to bid a few of the sequences through a contact we made earlier in the year on a film called HEAVEN IS FOR REAL.

How was the collaboration with director Patrick Hughes?
We didn’t have the opportunity to interact directly with Patrick. All of our communication was through Ajoy Mani.

How did you work with Production VFX Supervisor Ajoy Mani?
Ajoy was a real pleasure to work with. His direction was clear and consistent. The scope of VFX work on this film was large and Hammerhead was one of many contributors.

What was his approach about the visual effects?
Ajoy was primarily focused on seamless integration of the added CG elements. In other words, nothing overly graphic or eye-catching. Simple realism…

What are the sequences done by Hammerhead?

  • We added a CG Antonov Aircraft to the tarmac scenes, along with adding CG Paint and Decal Design to a practical Antonov Aircraft seen inside the hangar.
  • Created Lighting and Atmospheric enhancements for Antonov Interior scenes.
  • Added Laptop and Diagnostic Equipment Screen Inserts.
  • Added CG Knife (thrown by Jason Statham).
  • Green Screen comps along with various shots enhancements.
  • Speed Re-Maps, Rig removals, etc.


Can you describe one of your day on-set and then during the post?
We were not involved during production, only for a few weeks in post which went very smoothly from our perspective.

Can you explain in details about the creation of the CG Antonov?
We did not create the Antonov. It was built be another company and supplied to us by production to use in our shots. We did place, light and render it for our sequences using Maya and Redshift for rendering.

How did you handle the CG paint and decal design?
Design was already completed when we started on the project. Our duties were to implement it in the shots we were assigned.

Can you tell us more about the atmospheric effects for the Antonov scenes?
We created volumetric shafts of light to add atmosphere inside the plane.


How did you manage the various screen inserts for the laptops?
The monitor insert material was provide for us and we tracked the screens and composited the designated material.

How have you created the CG knives used by Christmas?
We used Maya with Redshift rendering.

Is there any other invisible effects you want to reveal to us?
There are several shots of a practical Antonov aircraft (in the hangar). That practical aircraft didn’t have the cool camouflage paint job and decals of the hero Antonov, so a CG veneer consisting of all the design elements was added in comp.


What was the biggest challenge on this project and how did you achieve it?
The technical challenges were all tasks we were familiar with. We came on a bit late in the game, so there was some catching-up as far as delivery specifics and aesthetic sensibilities. This is an example of where Ajoy’s direction was invaluable.

Was there a shot or a sequence that prevented you from sleep?
Nope.

What do you keep from this experience?
It was a fun project for Hammerhead to be part of and we truly hope to work with Ajoy again.

How long have you worked on this film?
We worked on THE EXPENDABLES 3 for about 6 weeks.

How many shots have you done?
We completed 42 shots for THE EXPENDABLES 3.

What was the size of your team?
Our team consisted of two compositors, a tracking artist, roto artist, 3D artist and coordinator in addition to Dan and I as the VFX supervisor and producer respectively.

What is your next project?
We are currently in production on two features for Sony Pictures.

A big thanks for your time.

// WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Hammerhead: Dedicated page about THE EXPENDABLES 3 on Hammerhead website.





© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2014

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Vincent Frei

Founder & Editor-in-Chief // VES Member // Former comp artist

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