Just 35 years ago, a little movie about a down on his luck boxer who turns his fortunes around thanks to pluck, grit and heart came out of nowhere to become one of the most beloved films of all time. But would “Rocky” has spawned all those sequels if it had been about a robot boxer instead? When director Shawn Levy’s Real Steel opened last October, it surprised quite a few people. For one, the so-called “robot boxing movie” packed a whole lot of heart. While some may have been expecting wall-to-wall robot fights, they soon found out that buried beneath this sci-fi adventure was an emotional father-son story. And once again, a sequel to the big hit Real Steel is In production as we speak.
In the sequel, we explore the origin story of Atom and we begin to question, “Is there something special to this robot, and if so, why?” It’s still in the future, it’s still linear. It’s the next chapter. It’s the fallout of the Zeus vs. Atom fight, and it’s the fallout of what happens with the kid’s custody (which technically is Aunt Debra’s). It’s not an origin story, but at one point in the movie Charlie needs to research where the hell this robot came from, and has to understand his inner workings more. So, he seeks out Atom’s creator. So it’s not a flashback, but we learn about the history because we will meet Atom’s creator.
It delves into the fallout of the new fame and money that the Kentons are going to have as a result of the Zeus – Atom fight. It also delves into something that was a cool aspect of the movie, which is the class warfare between the underground unsanctioned world of robot boxing and the monetized corporately funded league. The truth is, it’s not unlike the way boxing saw its popularity contested with the rise of a more violent, less rule-bound MMA.”
So, the underground robots would represent MMA fighters before they usurped boxing?
“Yes. The other thing in the sequel that I’m going to really explore is that the design of the robots is going to be more diverse. Our robots are extremely diverse, but they’re all anthropomorphic. They all look and fight more or less like humans, some of them have two heads, and one of them has a club for a right hand, but I think we can really blow out the design of the robots in the sequel — I’m exited about that.”
Instead of relying solely on CG for the numerous robot-boxing matches, Levy opted for a nuanced blend of practical effects and cutting-edge motion capture technology. What resulted was some of the most seamlessly blended effects in recent memory. In addition to musing on the hybrid effects approach, the SimulCam technology that made the effects possible, and what sets Real Steel apart from the other VFX nominees.
Talks about the hybrid of practical and computer-generated visual effects. In order to make the seamless blend of the old school approach, they built the actual robots complete with hydraulic remote controls and used the practical robot for every shot that was possible with a real robot. The fighting, dancing, etc. of the robots was done using motion-capture and CG. They blended the old school craftsmanship of great practical effects work done by puppeteers with the outer edge of motion-capture technology to give Real Steel a textural realism.