Flashback to the cool Kato-vision shots in ‘The Green Hornet’

The film is now 10 years old.

Remember those great fight scenes in Michel Gondry’s The Green Hornet? The film has its 10 year anniversary this week and I stumbled upon some production info about the VFX for the fights just the other day. They were done, in particular, by CIS Hollywood (back before that studio was combined by Deluxe with Method Studios).

I thought I’d share the production details below. But first, check out a clip from one of the fights.

So cool! Here’s the production info originally from CIS Hollywood:

The task at CIS Hollywood was to work in concert with Green Hornet’s director, Michel Gondry and the production’s VFX supervisor, Jamie Dixon, to design and implement several sequences, most notably, the Kato fight scenes. It was the director’s wish to demonstrate that, while The Green Hornet’s right hand man, Kato, does not have super human abilities, he comes about as close as possible. To convey this, Kato and his assailants were to operate at different speeds. Kato was to quickly move around his attackers before they could lay a hand on him. When Kato struck an attacker, they would often fall into an even slower speed, their energy literally taken away.

Our challenge was to break apart several interacting actors during a sequence, individually re-time them in accordance to the action, re-choreograph and integrate them back into a new scene. Because it was important to the director to maintain the performance of the actors and stunt performers, there were no individual plates shot. For us, this meant deconstructing the whole shot, rebuilding gaps in the background and in the actors themselves and reconstructing the pieces.

In some cases, this meant creating entirely alternate performances than what was shot. In addition, we developed shots where Kato’s abilities were telescoped and took on a more graphical interpretation, as much at home in a graphic novel as a motion picture. Specifically, these included echoing techniques, where Kato’s abilities effect not only his assailants, but also the environment. One shot has Kato kicking an attacker over a car and the car is pushed off into the background along with the attacker. To prevent the moment from being interpreted literally, the car spreads out like pages beneath the assailant.

‘Kato vision’, as coined by Michel Gondry, depicts another of Kato’s skills and shows the POV environment from within Kato’s eye as he assesses the fight before him. For this, we designed a retinal pathway into Kato’s eye so Kato’s attackers could be seen as Kato sees
them.

Again, a stylized avenue was designed where a graphical overlay of Kato’s eye tracks to the objects of danger and maps them in red. We built a stylized but dynamic eyeball overlay that lends a graphic interpretation to the processes in Kato’s mind and fired bright red bolts from behind camera onto the objects.

Buy issue #1 of befores & afters in print