Retelling the dramatic tale of one of history's largest and most dangerous treasure hunts is a grand undertaking that requires a deft touch.
Based on a true story, The Monuments Men captures the journey of a small group of art historians-turned-soldiers in World War II tasked with trekking deep into Germany behind enemy lines and recovering renowned works of art before they're destroyed by the Nazi regime. Utilizing subtle but impactful invisible VFX, Cinesite relied on MODO and NUKE extensively to drive home the truly immense scope of the devastation in cities and scenes across the World War II-torn Germany for this thrilling production.
A leading VFX studio with a long line of credits on major productions, Cinesite had previously worked with The Monuments Men's VFX Supervisor Angus Bickerton on multiple projects including Band of Brothers, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and Inkheart. Given the positive history there, and the fact the studio was already in discussion with Sony from the pre-production stage, it seemed a perfect new project to take on. The team also really loved the script too.
Preliminary tests began shortly before the start of filming in March 2013, and Cinesite completed 42 shots in time for a November delivery. At the time, the studio was also working on the Tom Cruise sci-fi action film Edge of Tomorrow, and the dual projects provided some unique contrast.
"Although our work also included environments for this film, the subject matter was entirely different as well as the size and scope," says Cinesite Environments Supervisor Thomas Dyg of their work on The Monuments Men. "There is nothing like the scale and level of destruction of Siegen, where you can see for miles with a high degree of detail and parallax.”
Given the historical nature and serious tone in The Monuments Men, the big focus for this project was on creating invisible photorealistic effects and environment enhancements to help set the right atmosphere without tipping the scale too far. MODO and NUKE were instrumental tools for pulling this off.