“Making of The Superpunch”

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    Making of The Superpunch


    The Superpunch is the final punch Neo that delivers to Agent Smith in the final installment of The Matrix trilogy during the film’s last face-off. It was the first shot that the directors Larry and Andy Wachowski and their conceptual designer storyboarded for the sequels. (The shot’s storyboards were also the first storyboards to leak out on the Internet back in Spring 2000). The Superpunch was meant to show, in familiar Bullet Time, the event of Neo’s super-powerful last punch that occurs over a fraction of a second and lands on Smith’s face deforming it in a surreal, anime-like fashion. As a Bullet Time shot, it was to feature an impossible virtual camera yet it had to look real. The nature of the push-in camera move and the requirement of punching someone with an inhumanly strong force meant that the original multiple still camera rig approach could not be deployed. The shot went through many different stages of visualizations, breakdowns, and considerations. The Superpunch became even more challenging when we learned that it had to happen under heavy rain. We explored creating the shot based on live action elements and augmenting it with CG elements. Tests revealed that this approach would compromise the required fluid camera. The camera was meant to glide through space showing us an exciting event from previously unseen perspectives. Around the Spring of 2003 when we had gained confidence that our 3 year-long R&D effort in realistic human face rendering technology could pull off a full-frame, slow-motion close up of a familiar actor such as Hugo Weaving, we decided to create the shot entirely in the CG world.

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