The Last Samurai

FLASH FILM WORKS worked on the Tom Cruise epic, THE LAST SAMURAI, directed by Ed Zwick. We performed a couple hundred effects shots on the film, working once again for visual effects supervisor Jeffrey Okun.

On the film we created several matte painting shots of Yokohama Harbor and downtown period Tokyo.  Their were also several shots where we were taking the armies and duplicating them to create the illusion of huge armies clashing. Additional sequences included creating 3D arrows for a major battle sequence, creating 3D soldiers and horses for the ending battle, and also performing some face replacements on the stunt people to make it appear as though the actors were doing their own stunts.

FLASH FILM WORKS won a Visual Effects Society Award for "Best Supporting Visual Effects" for its work on "The Last Samurai."

In this shot above, we took the location plate of Tom Cruise in front of  a blue screen and added Yokohama harbor behind him. The harbor was created using 3D water and buildings. The mountains and sky were from still photographs. We also shot some of our crew against a green screen and comped them in walking along on the docks. If you look carefully you can even see a villager getting their head chopped off back on the docks. For this master establishing shot of the boat entering the harbor, we created the paddle wheel boat in Lightwave, as well as the background boats and most of the water.. We did use some water elements shot in HD Video as well as some HD land masses.. Most of the background mountains and sky are pieced together from still photographs and 3D elements.
This difficult shot featured a plate of the docks and partial ship shot in front of a bad blue screen. We had to create the background matte painting using a combination of 3D and 2D and we also extended the end of the ship and had to rebuild the tops of the buildings and the ship ropes because we tilted the shot higher than the plate was originaly shot for.  This is another shot where we had to build up the existing location plates and we also added a matte painting of the castle in the background.
This is one of several shots in the film where we has to build up a field of soldiers using various different elements of troops that had to be tiled into the shot. We also added the background matte painting of Tokyo and removed the front railing. For this shot, several different plates of soldiers and explosions were shot and composited together. A 3D soldier was also created for when he gets blown into the air.
For this shot, we took a still photo of a valley and added in the military encampment. Most of the elements used were created in 3D. Some distant birds were also added to bring the image to life.
There were a number of shots in the film where we created 3D arrows in Lightwave and composited them into the shots. The actors would pretend to fire the arrow and we placed the arrows into their hands and had them fly through the air and hit their targets. For several shots we created 3D horses. These were needed for scenes where the horses were shot and killed or had to perform difficult stuntwork.

Holes on the internet movie database   All images courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures