How ActionVFX Fire Elements Ignited The Visual Effects Of 'Don't Breathe 2'

How ActionVFX Fire Elements Ignited The Visual Effects Of 'Don't Breathe 2'

August 25, 2021
Cody Vineyard

Our library enabled studio VFX Legion to produce nearly 40 VFX sequences, despite the pandemic, tight deadlines, and more.

Spoilers ahead!

Don't Breathe 2, the sequel to the widely popular first installment Don't Breathe, has officially hit theaters. The film was highly dependent on top-of-the-line visual effects to bring the vision of Director Rodo Sayagues to the big screen.

The audience picks up the story years after the events of Don't Breathe, where The Blind Man (portrayed by Stephan Lang) is now living with his young daughter, Phoenix, in solitude. When his daughter is kidnapped, he is forced to use his other highly tuned senses to find her and take revenge on the kidnappers.
Here's the full VFX breakdown of the fire sequences we'll be talking about.
I had the honor of catching up with Founder and Creative Director James Hattin to talk about how the ActionVFX library helped VFX Legion composite intricate shots on a deadline, while exceeding the expectations of the Director and Lionsgate Entertainment.

Q: You created over 100 VFX shots for Don’t Breathe 2. But it didn’t start off like that. You were asked to bid on 30+ effects and were awarded only a few complex shots, but eventually were granted more work due to exceeding the expectations of Lionsgate. Were you able to utilize ActionVFX elements to showcase the high-level you were able to operate at?

James Hattin: Early on, they had a handful of “fix-it” shots, which were easy enough to do. Then they started needing help on a handful of fire shots of the main character falling through a glass ceiling and out a window. We put in ROARING fire throughout the room. It was seamless. Absolutely felt like they shot it in an inferno.
From there the shot count grew exponentially as we were awarded most of the fire work in the rest of the movie.

Q: The production was slowed down due to the pandemic in the fall of 2020. How did you approach the shots that you were given, knowing tight deadlines were looming? Did ActionVFX elements help you reach those deadlines, while still delivering high-quality VFX shots?

James Hattin: The timeline was always tight on this movie. The overarching question was always “can it be done by X date?” Our answer was always yes. Knowing how many shots there were that involved fire, we knew we couldn’t go down the road of simulated fire. There was just too many shots, and we knew the library at ActionVFX was large enough to give us the elements that we needed, quickly.
It also allowed us to stay away from the budget of simulations. Any shot would naturally be 3 to 4 times the cost because of the back and forth, development time and hardware needs for complex Houdini caches.

Q: You mention creating a wide variety of effects, including compositing digital elements into the opening shot of the movie, that is well over 1500 frames long. How did ActionVFX elements speed up your workflow and maximize your efficiency in creating this shot?

James Hattin
: The long shot in the movie was one of the more complex shots we’ve done as a company. A CG double of the girl was created because the director wanted to see her fall down in the opening shot of the movie.
Much of the fire of the burning house came from another vendor who was originally assigned the task of this shot until it became too complex. There were a couple of fire beats that we needed to hit that weren’t in their work. As we fly over we needed more smoke and bursts of fire and embers into the air. That’s where ActionVFX came in. It took one pass to find the right elements and put those beats in there. The director bought off immediately.
Q: The beauty of VFX stock footage is the time and money it saves in post-production. How did our vast VFX library, particularly our fire, help you achieve nearly 40 sequences that needed realistic fire VFX?

James Hattin: Each artist has access to the library so that they can look for the right elements to fit their needs. This is a much more streamlined process than a supervisor looking through a collection of fire and suggesting the right piece. Of course, we have very talented artists that are exceptional at matching the correct scale and speed of the elements in the scenes. This ability for each artist to select the right footage speeds up the process immensely.

Q: Would you recommend ActionVFX elements to other VFX artists? We love the fact that the same high-quality VFX elements from our library that are used in Hollywood productions (your work on Don’t Breathe 2 is a shining example) are available to everyone, and now cheaper than ever before with our subscription.

James Hattin: We would always recommend ActionVFX for fire, smoke, rain and magic effects. There hasn’t been a really solid fire collection since the early 2000’s, so it’s nice to have some really well thought out and well shot elements. Also most of them come in 4K, so gone are the days of having to scale up video elements for feature films or 4K streaming. We’ve been working with ActionVFX for years now and their collection just keeps getting better and better.

Hattin ended the interview by saying what's at the very heart of what the team at ActionVFX strive to achieve everyday.

"ActionVFX has opened up a lot of opportunities for us to pitch to clients. This material works at all levels from beginner and hobbyist to Hollywood blockbuster and everything in between. Having access to it has been a great tool to showcase what is possible with these elements."

I want to extend a special thanks to Hattin for taking the time to tell and show us what ActionVFX did for the production of Don't Breathe 2, as well as the entire VFX Legion team for their incredible work!

This isn't the first time VFX Legion and ActionVFX have paired up. Check out how VFX Legion utilized our elements in the horror movie Ma, ABC's How to Get Away with Murder, and Superfly!

Our new subscription model brings unlimited access to our library that VFX Legion and so many other studios and individuals (from hobbyists to professionals) take advantage of. And you can utilize the same elements seen in Don't Breathe 2 for a low $14.99 price. Check out what other major productions use our elements below!
There are 12 different plans, and based on the number of VFX elements and resolutions that you need, there are plenty of options that will best suit your needs.

Click below to view all of our plans!


We encourage you to head to the new ActionVFX Forum to interact with other VFX artists to talk about the VFX in Don't Breathe 2, form a community with others, share your work, and so much more.

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