28 January 2023 The Irish Film & Television Network
Ed Bruce from Screen Scene VFX on ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ and Irish VFX’s bright future
21 Jun 2016 : Seán Brosnan
‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ is in cinemas June 24th
With the sure-to-be global hit ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ hitting cinemas on June 24th, we catch up with Ed Bruce over at Screen Scene VFX to talk about their work on Roland Emmerich’s follow up to the 1996 blockbuster.

The original ‘Independence Day’ – starring Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum - was released in 1996 and was a huge hit, making over $817m at the box office. The sequel has a purported production budget of $200m with Jeff Goldblum reprising his role along with new-comers Liam Hemsworth and Maika Monroe. It also won the Oscar for VFX that year.

Early reviews of Emmerich’s follow-up have been resoundingly positive with Empire and IGN both hailing the film, particularly the VFX; IGN said of the film, “ It’s all great looking stuff, too - this is a cohesive, lived-in world where alien technology is seamlessly interwoven with man-made efforts, and when the war starts proper, the spectacle is entirely believable.”

In what has been a fantastic year for SSVFX winning an IFTA Award for ‘The Frankenstein Chronicles’ as well as a Royal Television Society Award for ‘Ripper Street’, their work on what may well be the blockbuster of the year seems very fitting.

Ed Bruce at the Dublin based studio tells us more.

IFTN: What work did Screen Scene VFX perform on ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’?

Ed Bruce: Screen Scene VFX looked after a sequence on IDR for FOX Studios. It has a variety of work, from blue screen set extensions on the Moon to fully CG shots with jet fighters duelling in the Grand Canyon.’

How did you guys land the job? Emmerich is known for his phenomenal VFX so it must have been a real honour...

Obviously it is great to be part of such a big tent pole film for Roland. His first movie back in 1996 was visually ground breaking and we all knew he would be going for something even more spectacular with the sequel.

Over the last few years SSVFX have worked hard to build our international brand & gain recognition for our endeavours. Not only have we recently collected an IFTA for ITV’s ‘The Frankenstein Chronicles’, but we have seen a variety of our work pick up international award wins and nominations. Nominations from BAFTA, EMMY, VES, HPA, Animago, IFTA & AEAF and wins from the Royal Television Society, VES & AEAF. And in the last week we’ve heard that Ripper Street’s VFX has been shortlisted for an Emmy.

Alongside such recognition we continue to work with international clients like HBO, BBC, ITV, Amazon Prime, Starz and of course FOX who are the studio behind ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’. IDR is our second project with FOX after completing Previz and VFX shots on John Moore’s ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’.

How many people were involved and over what period of time?

Around a dozen of us within SSVFX. We were awarded the work with a tight five and a half weeks before the final delivery.

How does the process work?

After a vendor has been green lit to work on a sequence, TurnOver commences. This is the process of receiving all that there is regarding each shot you would be working on. That’s camera rushes, photography & on-set references, concepts, previz, assets… everything that would be connected with the work at hand.

This would then go into our workflow and systems whilst we plan and prep our team. Over the course of the project we would submit works in progress; whether we send stills, block out animations, layout etc for the overall VFX Supervisor to review. With each iteration and set of notes, we move closer to the finished sequence and final approved shots for delivery.

Does Screen Scene tender for the work?

On many projects we do tender or pitch for work, but on IDR we were approached to bid on a couple of sequences. It is great testament of our abilities to be asked to work on international projects like IDR, Game of Thrones, Black Sails etc. We are very proud to be the leader in the growth of the Irish Visual Effects Industry.

Was there an overall vision that Roland Emmerich provided that every one of the team has access to?

The independent VFX team, led by Volker Engel & Marc Weigert at Uncharted Territory, who governed over the 16 Visual Effects companies on IDR, set up a workflow that ensured we all sung from the same hymn sheet of Roland’s vision. Sharing assets, references, previs and being able to see completed VFX shots as they were delivered from other vendors ensured the continuity and look. We worked on a sequence that involved assets that also appeared across many VFX sequences by other international vendors like Weta, Digital Domain & MPC. It was therefore very important that we all understood and were mindful of that connection.

Are you excited by the fact that millions of people are going to see your work worldwide?

Absolutely. We’ve been very fortunate that SSVFX have worked on many big shows before. Shows that have a huge following like ‘Black Sails’ and ‘Game of Thrones’, but I believe IDR will see massive box office numbers. The trailers are epic & spectacular. A true blockbuster. For all of our amazing crew that participated in Screen Scene VFX it will be wonderful to watch our work fly by on the silver screen. We are very proud to have played a part alongside many wonderful vendors.

Are you excited by the doors this will open for Screen Scene VFX with IDR out so prominently on the world stage?

We are always proud of the work we’ve been delivering for our clients and of course always look forward to growing our international client base. We’ve had another great year delivering over 600 shots for ‘Game of Thrones’ Se06, the last two seasons of ‘Ripper Street’, ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ & the kudos surrounding Lenny Abrahamson’s Oscar winning and nominated ‘Room’. We also have some very exciting projects ahead.

The future is very bright for Screen Scene VFX and the Irish Visual Effects Industry.

‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ is in Irish cinemas from June 24th.

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