Real Steel: Technology and Experience
Director Shawn Levy gives credit where credit is due and says that for the amazing technology used in “Real Steel,” he and the special effects teams “borrowed many pages from the technology that James Cameron developed for ‘Avatar.’” The director further explains, “This is a next generation approach to visual effects.
Simply put, instead of the traditional way where we shoot an empty frame and then computer animators draw in a robot later, we did motion capture, where we had real boxers choreographed by Garrett Warren and Sugar Ray Leonard actually boxing each other. We took the data of their body movements. Digitized it. Stored it. Then, months later we come to a real set and lined up a shot. I could then take that programmed motion-capture data and use what’s called Simul-Cam B to feed that stored data into a real-world place.
“It’s taking the technology that was literally invented on ‘Avatar’ but doing something a little different with it. ‘Avatar’ took motion captured performances and put them in a virtual world. We’re taking motion-captured performances and plugging them back into the real world.”
Levy admits that the process sounds complicated and does us a favor by putting it in even simpler terms. “Here’s what it all really means,” he says. “We put fighters in the ring wearing data capturing jumpsuits. They do the fight. Their moving data––the data that is their motion––is converted into a robot avatar on the screen simultaneously. Then we’re able to go to our live fight venue, line up a camera on an empty ring, and the technology allows you to take the robot fighting that you did six months earlier and put it in that ring in real time as you’re watching it. And that’s Simul Cam B.”
Director Shawn Levy sums up his experience working on “Real Steel”: “There’s something very satisfying about the fact that the movie on the screen is the movie that was in my head,” he says. “It’s the movie I pitched to Steven [Spielberg] and Stacey [Snider] the first time I sat down with them. And we have been able to stay faithful to that initial instinct.”
Hugh Jackman adds, “All my professional life I’ve wanted to be in a movie that affected me in the way ‘Rocky,’ ‘Chariots of Fire’ and ‘Dead Poets Society’ did when I was growing up. Those movies inspired me, got me jumping out of my seat, made me laugh and totally involved me emotionally. This is the realization of a dream for me. I feel we’ve made a movie that will entertain and inspire people in the way those movies did for me.”
Producer Don Murphy says, “I think ‘Real Steel’ has something for everybody. It’s got boxing for the men, robots for the boys, Hugh Jackman for the ladies, and the family aspect for everybody.”
Producer Susan Montford wholeheartedly concurs. “It’s a beautiful story with an identifiable, relatable journey and big spectacle. I think we’ve got everything. It’s going to be massively appealing.”
Related Link: Read the Full Production Notes for Real Steel >>