Amazing Before & After VFX Breakdown - Arrival

Multiple VFX houses contributed to this project, including Oblique FX, The Third Floor, Alchemy 24, MELS, Folks VFX, Raynault FX, Rodeo FX, Hybride, Fly Studio, Shed, and Framestore!

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They decided to make the spaceships look like massive oval pebbles, dark gray in color and with an old stone texture. This created an interesting Juxtaposition between something with alien technology, futuristic and highly controllable and, basically a big rock.
To make the spaceship disappear they came up with the simple idea that it could just vanish and leave behind in its wake a dissipating cloud of condensation, this maintained the feeling of a vastly superior technology than our own.

Visiting hours
At certain times in the day a group of humans would enter the spaceship via a scissorlift.
They made various mini-sets for the scenes when they go from outside to inside the spaceship. One was a 150-foot long tunnel and interview room constructed by the Art Department to serve as the interior of the spaceship. They had the interview set vertical, the bottom part of the scissor lift, and they had the set of the tunnel which was horizontal. The idea was to start the camera from the vertical set and use a Technodolly to match move that initial camera movement with the tunnel where the guys are walking. they then stitched that together using a bit of CG in-between to marry the two shots perfectly and then reverse-engineered the shot. They had the actors acting standing up and the camera doing all of the camera moves taking into consideration that they are flying.
The Hazmat suits were entirely CGI.

For the explosion they built a scale model tunnel, similar to a chimney, put a camera on top and set an explosion at the bottom, this made it look as though the flames were traveling along the tunnel towards the camera. They then had stunt people pulled on wires for the first 3 shots and at the end of the sequence they are full CG characters.

Military base
The whole conflict at the end of the movie was created in post and wasn't even in the script in the beginning. Most of the conflict was in monitors so all the digital environments whether it's the ones at sea or in the desert were created from scratch!

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