Creating The Jumping Effects
As soon as the filmmakers began developing JUMPER, they also began thinking about
the Jumping effects. Having carefully developed the rules of Jumping, they wanted the effects
to reflect them with credible realism; yet, at the same time, be original enough to give
audiences a fresh experience. That’s why they brought in visual effects supervisor Joel Hynek,
who won an Oscar for the eye-popping What Dreams May Come and was integral in
developing the cutting-edge effects seen in The Matrix, and visual effects producer Kevin Elam
(Mr. and Mrs. Smith) to create the visual essence of Jumping as well as the film’s other visual
effects shots. Stunt coordinator Simon Crane, who previously worked with Liman on Mr. and
Mrs. Smith and whose additional credits include such films as X-Men: The Last Stand and
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, also entered the mix, training and choreographing a whole
team of stunt-doubles in the tricky art of Jumping on screen.
For Liman, part of the challenge was mixing up cutting-edge effects with his signature
in-your-face, hand-held photographic realism. “I’m not interested in effects per se,” notes
Liman. “But with this film, I wanted to push the envelope in this arena and to try things that
hadn’t been done before.”
This was exhilarating territory for Joel Hynek, who has a longstanding reputation for
creative and technical innovation. “Just the idea of coming up with an effect we hadn’t seen
before but was so integral to the storytelling was very exciting to me,” he says.
Hynek familiarized himself with the many different screen manifestations of teleporting
seen in movies from the past, then determined that JUMPER would offer a new view.
“Teleporting has almost always been seen from an objective view – in others words, you’re in
a place and you suddenly see somebody arrive or depart. But we’ve created true POV jumps
so that you get a sense of what it looks and feels like from the Jumper’s perspective to move
from one place to another on the other side of the earth or the other side of a wall. In other
words, this time the audience gets to go along for the ride.”
Hynek wanted the Jumping effect to be a dynamic, ever-changing event and never
exactly the same twice. “We didn’t want to see the same thing over and over throughout the
movie,” he explains. “So there are four things that effect how a teleporting Jump occurs: 1)
the Jumper’s skill level; 2) his intention – whether he’s trying to be stealthy or destructive or
just having fun; 3) his emotions at the time; and 4) the overall difficulty of that particular
teleportation. A Jumper who is panicked is going to create a different effect than a Jumper
who is feeling calm. The more upset the Jumper is, the more big effects you’ll see. This was a
lot of fun to play with.”
The highly variable Jumping effects do, however, have certain elements in common.
“There’s always a blur factor involved, which is basically a time exposed motion blur
generated by the Jumper’s evaporation into space. There’s what we’re calling a vacuum
condensation flow, which is the vacuum and the rapid suction of air the Jumper leaves behind
when he suddenly departs. And then there are the “Jump Scars,” or which is the window, or
more accurately the discontinuity in space, the Jumper creates to travel from one place to
another. You would expect large forces, such as gravity, to be pretty intense at the juncture
points that rupture space so objects come flying towards the scar to varying degrees, depending
on the intensity of the jump.”
Hynek mixed and matched all kinds of technology to create this ever-changing array of
effects. “What I<
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