‘Free Guy’ visual effects: Admiring the Oscar-nominated team that created Ryan Reynolds’s realistic video game world

As we continue to go through this year’s Best Visual Effects category at the Oscars, we come to “Free Guy,” an action-comedy that required extensive visual effects to create a realistic video game world in which Ryan Reynolds‘s Guy lives, one that allowed for all sorts of impossibilities from real life. The nominated VFX team consists of Swen Gillberg, Bryan Grill, Nikos Kalaitzidis, and Dan Sudick.

Formerly with Digital Domain, the movie’s VFX supervisor Gillberg was previously nominated for “Real Steel,” while Grill was nominated twice before, including once with Joe Farrell, another of this year’s nominees for “Spider-Man: No Way Home;” together, they created the flood effects for Clint Eastwood‘s 2010 supernatural drama “Hereafter,” and Grill went on to do VFX for Marvel Studios’ “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

With 12 Academy Award nominations under his belt, Sudick received rare double vids for “Free Guy” and “No Way Home.” His 10 previous nominations include one for “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” the second for Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds,” and then eight more for Marvel Studios movies.

Kalaitzidis is the film’s VFX supervisor from Digital Domain, and he’s the only one on this team with no previous Oscar nominations.

The work by this quartet and their team of artists and animators is evident in every scene of “Free Guy” from the way Reynolds’s NPC (non-playable character) Guy sees the world differently when he dons the glasses worn by the avatars of those actually playing the video game. This includes everything from CG prizes and rewards to full-on buildings that bend and break as Guy’s world starts being deleted all around him. The visual effects are used in almost every scene in the film, including a last act battle between Guy and a souped-up muscular version of himself.

In the video above, you can watch Digital Domain’s VFX breakdown reel from the opening of “Free Guy” as Channing Tatum‘s video game avatar skydives down into Free City, lands in a car, and then drives it through the city while being chased by police cars and shot at the entire way. It’s a mostly CG segment of the film that shows how much can be done with visual effects to create entire sequences in a computer, taking elements and plates that are shot on location and stages that are then composited using visual effects into the completed sequence.

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