Watch Video: Ford v Ferrari Cameras and Crashes (Behind the Scenes)

I got involved with the show thru Fox producer Kevin Halloran, who had me meet with James Mangold to talk about the cars and how we would achieve the look James wanted. We wanted to approach the car gags and all of the car racing shots as practical effects as much as possible. We wanted to get the cars, the driving, and the crashes with real cars and real drivers, or actors in real cars, as much as we could.

Ford v Ferrari

Capturing the Dangerous Realism of Racing

by VFX supervisor Olivier Dumont

I joined Ford v Ferrari after interviews with Fox VP of Visual Effects Joe Conmy and then James Mangold. James could tell you more about why he chose to have me on board, but I feel we had a similar vision of how to integrate VFX into this movie — both practically and visually, in order to get them as invisible as possible.

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We worked with [DP] Phedon Papamichael to get the cameras into the real racing picture cars with the real actors. We built special-purpose race cars that allowed us to put the camera in the car with the actors at speed in the race scenes, with a stunt driver driving the car from a remote pod on top of the car. By doing this, we were able to have actors looking as if they are driving, even though the stunt driver is safely controlling the car. That let the actors act without worrying about trying to control a car at high speed. We also built a very cool high-speed camera car that was nicknamed “Frankenstein.” With multiple cameras mounted all over Frankenstein at race speed, we could get really cool shots of cars and actors during the racing scenes.

[Read more on Ford v Ferrari from VFX supervisor Olivier Dumont.]

We also worked with [production designer] Francois Audouy to get the period-correct look on the cars and in the set pieces, including props that involved SFX gags. I did do research on Carol Shelby and the 1966 Lemans race to make sure I understand a little more than the script had in it. But I am a car guy and a racing guy. I grew up building race cars and race boats from the late ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, so this movie is right up my alley.

We had extensive meetings with storyboards and matchbox cars on tabletops with James Mangold and Darren Prescott, the second unit director to figure out how to get the shots while racing cars at high speeds. A particularly difficult shot for us to figure out was the one where we needed to launch a race car 300 feet down the track from a moving platform going 70 mph and have it crash in the race — with other race cars on the track. So we built a vehicle to do just that. It was a pretty spectacular sight.

We tried to get as much with practical special effects as we could, but we still needed help from VFX. So I worked very closely with Olivier Dumont when the practical work needed some VFX to complete the sequences. He did a great job making us look good.

[Read more on Ford v Ferrari from VFX supervisor Olivier Dumont.]