WHITE HOUSE DOWN
About the Visual Effects
Emmerich's longtime collaborators -- Co-Producers and Visual Effects Supervisors Volker Engel and Marc Weigert -- oversaw the visual effects on White House Down.
Where Engel and Weigert had previously been called upon to create UFOs blowing up the White House, or an earthquake destroying Los Angeles, their assignment was much more muted this time around. "The whole movie takes place in and around the White House, and that's one of the few locations in the world where you are not allowed to shoot anywhere, not even nearby, and definitely not inside," explains Weigert. "So, the biggest challenge for us is to help create the location. Roland wants to keep this realistic. We're mimicking White House plans including several city blocks around it, replicating each tree, fence and guard house in the computer."
Weigert and Engel also played a valuable role in helping pre-visualize the sequences. "We're able to show Roland sequences and scenes and say, 'What do you think about this?'" says Weigert. "Then, we work on it together and say, 'Well, let's move the camera over a little bit. Let's have a longer lens here.' That way, we make the movie before we make the movie."
"The greatest achievement for us is when people come to us after having seen the film and they say, 'I still have no idea which shots where visual effects and which shots where done for real. It just looks like you filmed the White House,'" says Engel. "Depicting a well known landmark is always a challenge. Everyone in the whole world knows what the White House is supposed to look like. But after already destroying it for Roland in Independence Day and 2012, we are slowly becoming White House experts."
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