The Predator

"Rolling reviews" with cineSync


Director Shane Black’s new take on The Predator was released into cinemas a little while ago and introduced a whole new chapter to the long-running Predator mythology.

The Art of VFX recently sat down with Overall VFX Supervisor Matt Sloan, to discuss the creation of the film’s impressive VFX sequences, the various methods of collaboration with the various VFX vendors, and the approach to the film overall.

From the interview:

What was your feeling to work on such an iconic character?

It was a little daunting. We had to take a known and loved creature and then create a suitable nemesis for it in the form of the “Upgrade” Predator. Trying to make something like that fresh after numerous sequels and spin offs is always a challenge. But we loved it every step of the way.

How was the collaboration with director Shane Black?

Shane was great. He is super enthusiastic. Because of the tight post schedule (16 weeks) We would meet with him every other day for reviews, then every day as we went into the delivery stretch. He even travelled to Montreal to meet the crews at MPC and Atomic Fiction (now Method Studios). It was a great thing for him to do. He’s got a good eye and amazing comic timing. It really was a pleasure to work with him.

What was his expectations and approaches about the visual effects?

The great thing with Shane is that he has a lot of trust. As far as shooting went, I could let him know the methodology for a shot with the passes needed etc. and he would say “Sure! If you need it, we’ll get it”. He trusted us that we knew what we were doing and he’d let us go weapons free. It helped speed up the post process a lot.



There are many graphics on the Predator ship and with his tools. How did you design these elements?

Again, for time reasons, we let the vendors do the development for the holograms. It’s bit of a cheat knowing you will be designing stuff to suit what was shot instead of the other way around. We could tailor the holograms to interact at certain times and use any reactive light in the plate to help bed them in. Again, Atomic did the heavy lifting with the holograms in the ships and in Rory’s basement.

Can you explain in detail about their creation and animation?

Sadly, from a technical standpoint, not really. Animation wise, I’d adjust the base animation to hit certain beats usually via cineSync with Atomic. The animations would be adjusted, then once approved, we’d start bedding them in in comp.



The VFX vendors are all around the world. How did you proceed to follow their work?

Endless cineSync sessions and reviews. In the last week we went even into rolling reviews because of the size of the comp teams. Notes we had given at the beginning of the session had been addressed before we managed to finish the hours long review, so they were loaded up and we reviewed them again. It was crazy.


The rest of the interview, which has some terrific details, is available at Art of VFX.