Replicating Rio for Fast X


Replicating Rio for Fast X

31 August 2023

We speak to the team about their work of the latest instalment of the high-octane Fast & Furious franchise

The wildly popular Fast franchise will be forever remembered for over-the-top chases, fast cars and stunning locations. Over 10 films we’ve seen Vin Diesel and family jet off to beautiful countries around the world, racing in Tokyo, Iceland, and Cuba – to name a few – and Fast X is no different.

When Outpost joined production in 2023, their work included a series of set extensions and complex environment shots. In one sequence, we see one of the film’s iconic ‘tuner parties’ – a gathering of drivers pre-race – on the coastline of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Filmed entirely in a blue screen studio, Outpost would need to seamlessly replicate the iconic beachfront, before the shot transitions to a swift, 360-degree pan to the skyline.

“The sequence shows a party taking place on a small headland between two beaches in Rio de Janeiro – Ipanema and Copacabana. The live-action plates we received were shot on a blue-screen set in a studio and we needed to place this live-action into the real-world locations,” says Layout Artist Ben Guy.

“One major problem with this is that the two beaches, in reality, are separated by an old fort, making it impossible for both to be seen in one camera angle. To be able to create an environment that took in both beaches, we received arrays of the two locations – multiple plates shot at the same position at various angles that can be stitched together to create a full 360-degree background,” Guy continues.

“When I first saw the shots, my reaction was, wow this looks cool! It was a lot of complex work but I knew they had a lot of potential,” said Senior Compositor Gilles Collart.

“We used a lot of reference and location photography on these shots. It was important that the environment that we were going to build around this set really matched the location in Rio, or at least as close as possible so that people wouldn’t realise that this wasn’t shot on location. So, we used drone footage and location photography to project onto the LIDAR to recreate that part of Rio,” Collart continues.

Ben Guy adds: “We used this reference to create rocks and vegetation from, taking visual cues from the real-world location. This helped us to blend between live-action and CG elements.”

Prior to filming, similar attention to detail was made in the studio, as set dressing was added to the blue screen set to match the real-life location.

Collart added: “The production team had dressed the studio with a floor that was same print as the floor of the real location, they also built a tiki-hut, a small part of the mountains that surround the area, and a few small walls. After this they placed some cars in the studio to fill up the area and let some people run around. Of course, we also see the crew, camera cranes, and rails in the shot. All surrounded by big blue walls.”

Integrating the on-set elements and the CG elements into the scene required a blended approach as 2D Supervisor Reuben Montgomery highlights: “By blending 2D and 3D techniques, we were able to achieve a cohesive and immersive environment that matched the intended visual aesthetic. Gilles' expertise and attention to detail were instrumental in building this setup, showcasing the seamless fusion of 2D and 3D assets throughout the project. Overall, the combination of 2D and 3D elements provided us with a flexible and dynamic approach, allowing us to create a visually engaging environment that enhanced the overall impact of the sequence.”

While the environment work and set extension would prove to be a big task, it was the sequence’s dynamic camera movement that proved to be most difficult. Gilles Collart adds: “The camera’s movement didn’t make it easier, because next to the projected elements in these shots we also had a lot of 3D generated parts and extra crowds that needed to be added.”

But it wasn’t the only challenging element for Collart and team. He adds: “The client was also going to add fireworks that would start in our shot and then when it exploded it would transition into one of their shots, which would be the start of the racing sequence. Getting everything synced up turned out to be a big challenge. Good communication was important, but I’m happy we were able to make it work!”

The fireworks were also a concern for the 2D team. 2D Supervisor, Reuben Montgomery, said: “One of the biggest challenges we faced was dealing with the flashing lights. Given that it was a tuner party scene, there were lots of purple, blue, red, and green disco lights. Also, large set lights were strategically placed along the bluescreens to simulate various coloured fireworks. Our goal was to seamlessly integrate the added fireworks while mitigating the spill from the blue screens. This was crucial to maintain accurate colour representation in the characters, cars, and the party atmosphere.” 

The 2D team focused on a combination of technical expertise and creative problem-solving to find a solution. Montgomery added: “We carefully adjusted the lighting setup and made use of advanced compositing techniques to minimise the spill and retain the intended colours. By ensuring that the added fireworks interacted convincingly with the environment, we aimed to deliver a visually immersive experience that aligned with the vibrant atmosphere.”

For Montgomery, it was an experience he’ll remember. “Working on the Fast & Furious franchise has been an incredible experience for me, especially since this was my second time after previously having worked on F9. From the beginning, there was no denying that the project presented significant creative challenges, but what made the experience truly enjoyable was the exceptional team we had." 

Collart adds: “For me this was a dream come true! I’ve been watching these movies since I was little, I grew up with them. The chance to be part of this franchise was a big honor. This was also my first big A-list movie I worked on to come out in theaters, so it’s something I will never forget.”

Related Posts

Star Trek Picard S3 – Resurrecting the Changeling Menace

We speak to FX Artist Mike Zhou about his work on the shapeshifting villain of the Star Trek canon


3 August 2023

5 Minutes With... Asset Lead Jyoti Prakash Panda

Asset Lead, Jyoti Prakash Panda, takes us through his VFX career to date, his love for creating hard surface or character assets, and his career highlights


1 August 2023

Emmys 2023: Outpost Projects Nominated For Best VFX

The 2023 Creative Arts Emmys nominees have been announced


13 July 2023