The Last Duel VFX Breakdown VFX By MPC

The Last Duel is a 2021 historical action drama film directed by Ridley Scott from a screenplay by Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck, and Matt Damon, based on the 2004 book The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France by Eric Jager. Set in medieval France, the film stars Damon as Jean de Carrouges, a knight who challenges his former friend, squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) to a judicial duel after Jean’s wife, Marguerite (Jodie Comer), accuses Jacques of raping her. The events leading up to the duel are divided into three distinct chapters, reflecting the contradictory perspectives of the three main characters. Affleck also stars in a supporting role as Count Pierre d’Alençon.

An adaptation of Jager’s book was first announced in 2015, though it was not officially greenlit until July 2019. Affleck and Damon were confirmed as stars and co-writers that month, with Comer and Driver joining the cast later that year. Filming took place in France and Ireland from February to October 2020, with a hiatus of several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Last Duel premiered at the 78th Venice International Film Festival on September 10, 2021, and was theatrically released in the United States on October 15, 2021, by 20th Century Studios. The film received positive reviews from critics, who praised the performances of the cast and production values, and likened it to the Akira Kurosawa film Rashomon (1950). It was selected by the National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2021. However, it bombed at the box office, grossing only $30.6 million against a production budget of $100 million.

Technicolor Creative Studios Production Supervisors Gary Brozenich and Jessica Norman worked alongside MPC Film VFX Supervisor Sebastien Raets, VFX Producer Skye Radies and teams in London, Montreal, and Bangalore delivering over 180 shots, and with VFX Supervisor Yann Blondel, VFX Producer Kristina Prilukova and the Paris based team, delivering an additional 220 shots.
MPC Film’s artists crafted the visual effects of two sequences: the duel and the Limoges battle. The original brief did not require extensive crowd building, but as the pandemic determined new ways of working, it was essential for the team to adapt the visual effects requirements, and crowd simulation artists were required to simulate both full CG crowds and crowd extensions.

For the Battle of Limoges, the team created the field, the bridge, and the adjoining village. The fundamental objective was to create an organic, photorealistic medieval environment. Environment artists extended the overall environment, adding trees and vegetation. After the foundations of the village were put in place, the FX team began to add burning huts to the battlefield, soldiers firing burning arrows at the bridge and residual smoke as fires swept through the town. To escalate the realism of the battle, they also increased the level of bloodshed and gory injuries.
As Carrouges and Le Gris meet in the final Duel sequence, the primary task was to create a harrowing battle requiring a great deal of realistic violence, also including the creation of fully CG horses and enhancing the surrounding duel environment. The assets and animation teams worked closely together to achieve photorealism, dynamics, weight, and realistic movement required for the scene. The team also created full CG versions of the dueling actors and their armor so they could authentically interact with the horses for a number of shots.

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