The team at Milk is excited to pull the curtain back on Netflix No.1 movie, comedy feature Me Time starring Kevin Hart, Mark Wahlberg and Regina Hall – to reveal how they tackled a brief to create VFX for a hilarious fight sequence with a mountain lioness.
Led by VFX Supervisor Ciaran Crowley, Milk created 140 shots for the 101 minute feature, delivering work spanning detailed replication and animation choreography of a fearsome mountain lioness and her bumbling cub, crowd extensions and an FX heavy car crash and puking scene!
Me Time tells the story of father of two, Sonny Fisher (Kevin Hart) who revisits an old friend (Mark Wahlberg) whose life is ‘slightly’ less domestic. With his wife and children away on a trip, Sonny is granted the promise of some ‘me time’, but ends up getting food poisoning, fighting lions, wingsuit diving and much more…
Crowley worked closely with overall VFX Supervisor Richard Baker, who played a vital decision-making role in the development of the film’s mountain lioness and cub. Says Crowley “a comedic performance was needed while retaining a balance of realism of the mountain lion throughout”. On-set references were provided along with photogrammetry 3D scans in order to set our crew in the right direction. From there, our team could be found watching cat videos and wildlife documentaries, talking to vets, taking trips to the zoo to source vital reference for everything from the intricate shapes (and tiny hairs!) on the inside of the lion’s mouth to the direction of its groom.
One of the biggest challenges was achieving a natural, realistic movement for the mountain lions (especially the cub which had to be exactly matched to the live-action cub) whilst maintaining the comedic rhythm of the scene. “The brief was to keep everything as grounded in reality as possible – so resisting the temptation to have the mother lioness raise an eyebrow at Hart’s silliness was an even harder challenge!” says Crowley.
Kevin’s interaction with the lions also proved a challenge for matchmove and tracking to keep the shadows consistent with the dynamic comic action of the scene! On top of this, the movement of the lions and their interaction with their environment meant the FX team needed to add in flying debris and sand, consistent with the arid mountain terrain of the lions’ habitat.
Added Crowley: “On a micro level, the individual components that constitute a lion had to be greatly scrutinised to separate the fur from the skin, to identify reflections in the eyes, the musculature and figure out markings as well as the direction of its groom. The solution was constant collaboration across departments to decide on each aspect.”
The team streamlined the creature pipeline by using in-house tool ‘Moobot’ on the Milk render farm – not just for CFX using Ziva Dynamics but also groom using Peregrine Lab’s Yeti.
Me Time is available to watch on Netflix.