Ben-Hur Chariot Sequence Races to the Winner’s Circle With Help from Mr.X
Technicolor’s VFX studio Mr.X delivered over 500 visually-stunning shots for Ben-Hur’s signature chariot race
One of the most celebrated Technicolor films of the last century was director William Wyler’s 1959 classic, Ben-Hur, winner of 11 Academy Awards – including Best Picture. The film’s most memorable moment, a heart-pounding chariot race that left viewers clinging to their seats, set the standard for action sequences in modern filmmaking for decades to come.
That same classic sequence also set a challenging benchmark for director Timur Bekmambetov’s creative team in their 2016 re-telling of Ben-Hur. That’s why they called upon Technicolor’s Mr. X for the film’s amazing chariot race sequence.
Undaunted by the technical and artistic complexity of the chariot race sequence, the Mr. X team created visual effects that blended seamlessly with the principal photography. This included creating and animating 32 horses, eight chariots, and eight charioteers, a process taking over 18 months to complete. They simulated each horse’s muscles, skin, and hair to an amazing level of detail.
For the film’s all-important Circus Tiberius set, Mr. X digitally upscaled a physically-constructed 675ft-long chariot racing stadium into a true cinematic spectacle having 60,000 spectators with motion-captured performances and attire representative of the various diverse Mediterranean cultures of the time.
All of the elements created by Mr. X were later incorporated into a separate VR 360° immersive experience created by Mr. X and used by the studio’s marketing department during the film’s theatrical promotion.
Technicolor Services Shine At TIFF 2016
- Technicolor and its portfolio of brands provided services for 18 films screening at the renowned Toronto International Film Festival.
- Technicolor’s Mr. X will be participating in TIFF’s first virtual reality industry panel.
Technicolor and its brands provided post-production services for 18 films screening at the 41st annual Toronto International Film Festival. Often known for generating “Oscar buzz”, TIFF will screen 397 films from 83 different countries of which 138 features will have their world premieres in Toronto.
The festival will also feature its first-ever virtual reality program, highlighting five immersive projects for viewers as well as VR programming for industry delegates. Mr. X Senior VFX Supervisor Aaron Weintraub will be one of four panelists invited by TIFF to sit on the VR/360: Creative Concept Meets Practical Design panel that will discuss the unique challenges and creative possibilities of immersive experiences.
Festival Films Served By Technicolor and Its Brands:
The Birth of a Nation
The Headhunter’s Calling
Katie Says Goodbye
A Monster Calls
The Red Turtle
The Skyjacker’s Tale
Technicolor and Mr. X Help Make The Strain Infectiously Entertaining
- Technicolor’s Toronto creative team provided on-location services, dailies and complete picture & sound post to the show’s first through third seasons.
- Technicolor’s VFX brand Mr. X provided an array of production services, including: Design & Previsualization, VFX Supervision, Digital Environments, VFX Editorial, Art Direction & Creature Design, 3D Animation, CGI Effects, and VFX Compositing
The third season of Guillermo del Toro’s award-winning thriller series, The Strain, kicked off August 28th to audiences on the FX Network. The show follows Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and his CDC Canary team as they battle against an ancient strain of vampirism that has started to spread across the globe. "The close creative collaboration with Technicolor and Mr. X has been vital in elevating The Strain and every project we work on,” says show creator Guillermo del Toro.
Shot in Toronto, Technicolor and its VFX brand Mr. X have worked on the series since its premiere in July, 2014, providing on-location services, dailies and complete picture and sound post. In addition, Technicolor’s Mr. X brand has been the lead VFX house on the series, delivering more than 3,500 shots over seasons 1-3. Del Toro added, “their enormous energy, know-how and invention has given us an edge we would not have otherwise.”
Seasons 1-3 leveraged Technicolor’s remote sound mixing capabilities with all mix playbacks and reviews taking place at the client’s location. Technicolor created a sound room within The Strain post production office in Los Angeles that mirrors the speaker setup and quality of its Toronto mix stage, allowing clients to monitor the mix and collaborate with the mixing team in real-time without leaving Los Angeles.
Watch The Strain Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX.
Montreal Re-recording Mixer - Stephane Bergeron
How did you become a re-recording mixer?
After studying classical music during university, I chose to focus on sound mixing and recording under the wing of Ian Terry, one of the most influential studio sound engineers in Canada. My passion for film has guided me towards post production which allowed me to work with Cinar, Modulations and for the last five years as a re-recording mixer at Technicolor in Montreal.
Can you describe your first mixing experience?
I was very fortunate early in my career to have worked on Robert Lepage’s film, Nô. Meeting this highly respected director with such artistic freedom has given me the spark to evolve in my career.
You mix sometimes by yourself or in team, what is the difference between the two?
When I am mixing a film by myself, the final result has a much more personal touch, I can control every detail of the final mix. A film is a collaborative project in which numerous people are involved. Mixing with a colleague allows me to discover new things that I wouldn’t have thought about. Good communication is mandatory to assure a positive result. I am very lucky to work with great talent at Technicolor.
Do you think the industry is reaching its peak in mixing complexity?
Since the beginning of my career technology hasn’t stopped evolving. I manage more and more audio tracks during the final mix, even more than 500 per project. We have moved from stereo mix to 7.1 and soon to Atmos. All of these upgrades are necessary for the viewer's experience and also to let the director have a clearer vision. Technology will continue to evolve to allow for more precision in the mixing process.
Last year, you have worked on “Snowtime!”.What are the major differences between mixing animated features and traditional films?
Last year, I had the chance to work on two amazing animated features, Mune and Snowtime!. Mixing an animated movie is obviously much more different than a traditional film. We need to start from zero and then we can modify everything until the last minute. It's a completely different challenge, but still very exciting.
How would you describe your role as a creative in the post process?
My role is to focus every element of the soundtrack, dialog, music and sound effects so that all the director's intentions remain clear and precise. Different mixes of a same scene can create completely different emotions.
How would you describe your process before starting to mix a project?
From reading the script, to the on-set visit to the viewing of final editing, I try to get myself involved in the environment of the film as early as possible. I have discussions with the director and the sound designer to guide my work and set the tone of the mix. The more I am prepared, the more I am able to let my emotions guide me through the mix.
What movie has changed you during your career?
Numerous films and also many meetings with extraordinary directors have influenced my career, but I have to admit that mixing Denis Villeneuve's Polytechnique has really struck me. Of course, because of the topic of the movie, I was myself a student back then, but also by the sober approach and hyper-realistic accent of this significant event, and working with an incredibly talented filmmaker.
What advice would you give to aspiring re-recording mixers?
If someone wants to be part of the post production industry, I would recommend they enroll in a specialized program to learn the basics of the profession and then apply for an internship in the sector they are interested in. Talent, a little bit of luck and alot of hard work should do the rest.
What is the most demanding of the mixing process?
Every film comes with its own technical challenges and with experience we manage to overcome them quickly to keep attention on what counts, which is the creative. The technical part is only there to help us highlight the required emotions. The technical aspect should never limit our vision; to the contrary, we need to transcend it to let it become a creative tool.
According to you, what makes a movie special?
As a viewer, a film is outstanding when we let ourselves get caught by the storytelling, forgetting about the film's length and everything outside the movie. The formula is complex from the script writing to the selection of the actors, choosing the right technical team, finding the ideal shooting location, final editing to the music; connecting through sound and finally colour finishing. Many things can go wrong during the process. That's why a talented director with a strong and consistent vision can achieve his objectives on a project of such magnitude. Working on these types of films is extremely rewarding.
Technicolor Montreal Collaborates with D-BOX
In their quest to take the post-production experience to a whole new level, Technicolor Montreal is proud to announce they will be showcasing D-BOX Technologies Inc., the pioneer in immersive cinematic motion around the world, in their high resolution screening room.
Technicolor Montreal is proud to have provided post services on the first Quebec feature available in D-BOX, Nitro Rush (produced by Attraction Images and distributed by Les Films Séville). Nitro Rush is now in theaters.
This collaboration means that Technicolor can now offer producers the opportunity to view their projects in their screening room equipped with D-BOX’s immersive motion technology. This state-of-the-art motion system syncs with the action on screen and immerses viewers in the movie to a point where they feel like they are literally a part of it.
“Installing D-BOX technology in our Montreal screening rooms allows us to offer local and international producers the luxury of viewing their project in the same way their audience would experience it,” says Nicolas Savoie, Vice-President of Sales, Marketing and Client Services for Technicolor Montreal. “D-BOX has really enhanced the way people view movies by playing a key role in the creative process from pre-production to post-production, and that’s something we’re excited to share with our clients.”
“Technicolor has a well-deserved reputation around the world as innovators in the entertainment industry so this collaboration makes sense in that we are two companies that are always striving to bring more value to our partners and audience,” declares Claude McMaster President & CEO of D-BOX Technologies. “We are very happy to see our motion-coding technology being used to enhance the post-production process in this way.”
The collaboration between Technicolor and D-BOX is the start of what promises to be a long and fruitful relationship and marks a shared commitment that both companies have to lead the way with next-generation products, services and solutions.
Technicolor Raises the Bar in Digital Platform Services
When a large North American studio needed to make sure its latest blockbuster title reached global audiences in time and the right way, they called on Technicolor to lead the charge.
Fear of the Walking Dead and Into the Badlands are two such examples where these highly-acclaimed AMC original series required delivery to 30+ countries and multiple digital outlets on the same day.
Technicolor harnesses our 100-year expertise, robust infrastructure and technological agility, to support all the clients’ content management and distribution requirements in this ever-changing landscape. Wherever the destination (Netflix, iTunes, etc.) and whatever the format (4K, and now HDR), we enable the efficient management and distribution of content to the cinema, home and on-the-go consumers.
As it happens, all the “magic” takes place in Montreal, Quebec. The Montreal site is the center of excellence within the Technicolor group for content delivery worldwide. Among other things, Technicolor Montreal has long been recognized and certified as an iTunes preferred encoding house, a feat that has just expanded to include the ability to deliver so-called “iTunes extras” (akin to extra feature on a DVD but for the iTunes store).
“Technicolor ensures our clients’ content is everywhere they need it to be – the content will be delivered at the right place at the right time, on all global platforms such as DCP, OTT, VOD, Airline/ Hotel, Broadcast TV and more. Our outstanding and unique quality control process and order placement platform have allowed us to provide an upscale and user-friendly service to all our clients including multiple Canadian distributors and producers", confirms Nicolas Savoie, Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Customer Service - Technicolor Montreal.