MELS produced the visual effects for RACE, a movie about sprinter Jesse Owens’ triumph at the 1936 Olympics
MELS is proud to have produced the visual effects for the biopic RACE, set to open soon on thousands of screens across North America and Europe. MELS was brought into the project at the storyboarding stage by producers Louis-Philippe Rochon of Solo Films and Dominique Séguin of Trinica Entertainment. MELS planned and supervised the filming of visual effects on sets in Québec and Germany. In all, 750 shots were produced for the movie. MELS oversaw all the visual effects and produced most of them – nearly 500 shots – in-house. The remaining shots were outsourced to contributors in Montréal and Vancouver in order to meet tight deadlines.
In addition to the cars, planes and zeppelins, MELS was responsible for creating 1930s-era 3D environments mimicking New York City, Cleveland, Ann Arbor, the University of Ohio campus and numerous stadiums, including the Olympiastadion in Berlin. All the track scenes were shot around Montréal and then inserted into digital stadiums packed with crowds of up to 80,000 spectators, also created out of thin air by a hundred MELS visual effects artists. For some scenes, an actor’s head had to be attached to an athlete’s body in order to produce Olympic performances. For the scenes shot in Berlin, Nazi banners and other paraphernalia created by the artists were added after the fact because Nazi symbols are banned in Germany.
A slap in the face for the Nazi regime
RACE is a Canadian-German coproduction that tells the story of one of the greatest athletes of modern times, the American sprinter Jesse Owens, who made history and delivered a slap in the face to the Nazi regime by winning four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Shot in Montréal and Berlin, RACE stars Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Eli Goree, Jeremy Irons, William Hurt and Carice van Houten.
“RACE was a terrific vehicle which gave our artists and technicians a chance to apply their ingenuity in order to produce spectacular and believable images,” François Garcia, Vice-President, Creative Services of MELS. “By seamlessly weaving together live action and visual effects, we were able to meet the project’s creative and technical challenges to the satisfaction of director Stephen Hopkins and the producers.” Michel Trudel, President of MELS, added: “We thank them for placing their trust in us and for their openness throughout the process.”
“The visual effects in RACE are at once invisible and essential,” commented Benoit Touchette, Director of Visual Effects at MELS. “Without our visual effects, there is no story, and if our work is not perfectly integrated, viewers won’t believe the story. Creating crowds and stadiums transports viewers into the thick of the action and makes them suspend their disbelief. People who have seen images from the movie are surprised to learn that the environments were created at a visual effects studio. They never suspected it. This has been a very satisfying experience for our team. Our work had to meet the highest standards of realism and make people feel as if they were really there. It has been an unforgettable project for us.”
MELS Studios and Postproduction, part of TVA Group, is a well-known name in the film industry. Its 500 professionals provide expert services under the motto Imagining, Creating and Delivering. MELS’ services include soundstage and equipment leasing, theatrical distribution, distribution for television, Internet and smart devices, postproduction, digital imaging, sound design, modelling, animation, matte painting and compositing. The long roster of movies shot at its facilities in recent years includes The Walk, Birdman, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Aviator, The Story of Your Life, Stonewall, Bad Santa 2, Nine Lives, X-Men: Apocalypse and Quantico.