“The Matrix” has changed the visual effect. Now, “Resurrection” is actually pivoting.


The amazing visual effects of The Matrix have changed the quest to prove what’s possible on the screen. The franchise will be back this week to see if there’s anything else it can do.

In the 1999 original, the filmmaker invented Keanu Reeves’ hero Neo, a way to go against physics while dodging bullets on the screen. This effect blew up enough to give it the nickname “Bullet Time,” and even changed the look of action movies, influencing the media from animation to video games.

In the new sequel, The Matrix Resurrection, filmmakers have introduced much higher quality technology, including 3D images created using artificial intelligence. But after 22 years of digital evolution, high-end cinematic effects are approaching near-perfect plateaus.

In the film industry, “we’ve moved from stopping what seems impossible to being unable to create some sort of surprise,” says John Gaeta, who helped create the bullet-time effect. He was the visual effects designer for the first three “The Matrix” movies.Now he is making things For the metaverse..

The camera ring helped create a “bullet time” effect that allowed Keanu Reeves and Hugo Weaving to go against the physics of The Matrix.


Warner Bros./Everett Collection

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This year’s movie showed a car slingshot from cliff to cliff (“F9”). Ryan Reynolds is running an amock in a video game (“Free Guy”). A giant monster is crushing the Hong Kong skyline (“Godzilla vs. Kong”). Viewers who stopped to ask themselves, “How did you do that?” Probably came up with the same answer. “computer”.

Fully computer-generated and reliable human characters are still at the frontier. “But I don’t know if there’s anything else I can’t do given enough money and time,” says editor Ian Fails. , A magazine that covers the artistry of visual effects.

Despite viewers’ numbness to digital eyeglasses, Hollywood’s demand for them is only increasing. Visual effects homes are competing in the global production boom and fueling a streaming war with flashy content.

Some directors are reacting to the VFX arms race by practicing more restraints. Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” The setting such as the desert planet Arrakis is drawn with a naturalistic appearance. Instead of expanding the audience to the fleet of attacking spacecraft, the director presented the night ambush in silhouette in the distance, conveying a gloomy scale.

“He was just showing the reality of the world,” says Namit Marhotra, CEO of the visual effects company DNEG, which worked on “sand dunes” and “The Matrix Resurrection.” He adds: “When you’re spending that kind of money, it’s harder for a filmmaker to control a more vibrant desire.”

In the new “Matrix” release, director and co-author Lana Wachowski is playing with the hope that the sequel will need to be upgraded. Spoiler Note: In the movie, Reeves’ character was reintroduced as a video game designer, and the blockbuster was called The Matrix. The movie series event probably happened in his video game world. This includes a signature action sequence in which Neo bends time and space. When a group of video game developers brainstorm the idea for the Matrix sequel, they declare “I need a new bullet time!”.

As Gaeta recalls, the initial bullet time was a “boundary hack.” It all started with 120 still cameras firing film photographs of Mr. Reeves hanging on a wire. These images were software stitched together to simulate the movement of a camera swooping in slow motion.

The successor to that technique is known as volume capture. The camera array captures people and space from all angles, and AI meshes this video into 3D footage so that it can be viewed and manipulated from all perspectives.

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Cinematographer Daniele Masachesi aimed for a “more realistic” work with director Lana Wachowski on the “Matrix Resurrection” set.


Warner Bros. Pictures

The Matrix Resurrections team has understated volume capture with the movie’s bullet-time jokes in mind, says visual effects supervisor Dungrass. “It’s really state-of-the-art technology, but I didn’t intentionally want to use it in as explicit a way as the original bullet time.”

At the same time, Wachowski also depends on the actual filming location in San Francisco, due to physical effects such as Wired Reeves jumping off a 43-story building with co-star Carrie-Anne Moss. Meta-premise to the life of the story.

“The idea is that this is a new upgrade to Matrix Simulation, so Lana wanted it to feel more realistic when we shot it,” said Glass, who worked with the director. increase. Since the sequel to the first “The Matrix”..

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Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus in’The Matrix Resurrections’, the latest in the’The Matrix’ franchise.


Warner Bros. Pictures released.

In 1999, “The Matrix” struck a chord with an increasingly obsessive culture of computers, the Internet, and millennial paranoia. Created at the forefront of analog and digital technology, the film’s visual effects won the Oscars and staged computer-generated creatures from the first part of Star Wars, Phantom Menace.

Today, graduates of the original “Matrix” effects team are driving breakthroughs in adjacent media. Kim Libreri, who worked on the visual effects of the original trilogy, is now Chief Technology Officer of Epic Games Inc, the maker of Fortnite. He recently reteamed with Wachowski on a “Matrix” -themed project to demonstrate Epic’s Unreal Engine. Used to create a 3D world.

Filmmakers are using these tools to create an environment where virtual cameras can be moved in real time, much like a video game. In the new “The Matrix” movie, Unreal Engine has generated a sparring match setting for Neo and Morpheus (Yahya Abdul Matine II) at the Martial Arts Dojo, updating the scenes from the original movie.

“Spontaneity has been sucked out of the industry because the setting of visual effects is so complex,” says Libreri. “What we want to do with real-time technology is to get back a happy accident.”

He will make a cameo appearance with Gaeta in The Matrix Resurrections. Gaeta is also working with The Wachowski to develop a potential sect of the “Matrix” franchise. The next big thing is that former movie effect designers look to the 3D world of the virtual ecosystem known as the Metaverse.

This is, in a sense, a change foreseen by a movie about reality built from computer code. Gaeta said:

Write to John Jürgensen john.jurgensen@wsj.com

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“The Matrix” has changed the visual effect. Now, “Resurrection” is actually pivoting.

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