Surprising John Wick 4 CGI Element For Horse Stunt Revealed

John Wick: Chapter 4 visual effects artists reveal some surprising VFX shots featured in the film’s opening desert sequence, including some involving Keanu Reeves’ horse stunt. Directed by franchise veteran Chad Stahelski, John Wick: Chapter 4 sees Reeves return as the titular assassin, this time facing off against Bill Skarsgård’s new villain, the Marquis. The film has achieved success both critically and commercially, with audiences lauding the sequel’s impressive action sequences.


In a recent interview with befores & afters, visual effects supervisors Jonathan Rothbart and Janelle Croshaw Ralla break down John Wick: Chapter 4‘s visual effects, including the “invisible” effects featured in the film’s opening sequence. According to Rothbart and Croshaw, the desert sequence was mostly filmed on location in Jordan with additional pick-ups shot in California, all of which featured environmental VFX, including sky replacements and sand work. Check out their full comments below:

Rothbart: “We were really there, and it just gives you those huge vistas. However, sand is kind of a nightmare because you can only brush so much sand away and you’ve got horses riding through and everything else, so traditionally you end up replacing a lot of that sand digitally just to hide all of the tracks and the machinery.”

Ralla: “Keanu actually did that [horse skidding shot], of course. Light VFX took all the Jordan footage and created a full CG environment to put that into, and it just worked beautifully. That’s the beautiful thing about a John Wick film, you’re always starting with something real. It’s very, very rare that you’re not.”

Related: Why Does The CGI In John Wick’s Ending Look So Fake?

John Wick: Chapter 4 Actually Has A Lot Of VFX

John Wick: Chapter 4‘s practical stunts and action are a large part of the reason why the film has been such a huge hit with audiences, but it’s easy to forget that VFX also play a crucial role. In fact, the film features over 1,500 VFX shots in total. A bulk of the VFX work for the gun-heavy franchise is adding in muzzle flashes and blood plumes, spatters, stains, and mists, but the work goes far beyond that.

While John Wick: Chapter 4‘s stunt team did often fall down real stairs and get thrown to the ground during fight scenes, VFX are frequently used to erase the protective padding placed around the environment. John Wick: Chapter 4‘s Arc de Triomphe scene also featured a number of VFX, which included using digital scans of the Parisian environment and replacing towed dummy cars impacting stunt performers with vehicles that look real.

After he cut it off in the previous installment, VFX artists also need to ensure that Wick’s ring finger is removed from every scene in which his hand is visible. A number of invisible stitches and set extensions are used during John Wick: Chapter 4‘s Dragon’s Breath scene as well, which ended up being one of the film’s most memorable moments. Although renowned for its practical stunts and action choreography, it’s clear that John Wick: Chapter 4 simply wouldn’t exist without extensive visual effects work.

Source: before & afters

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