British VFX company MPC collaborated with director Michael Mann to bring Ferrari’s legacy to cinematic life in the 2023 live-action film Ferrari.
VFX supervisor Chris Ritvo and VFX producer Emma Gorbey oversaw the VFX work to deliver director Mann’s vision. MPC’s work included creating detailed models of the hero Ferrari 351, the Ferrari 801 F1 car and 30 additional car variations, environment extensions, digital crowds and crash scenes. Visual effects played a pivotal role in the dramatic retelling of a fundamental year of Ferrari’s life.
Principal photography for the film took place on location in Ferrari’s hometown of Modena, Italy. 2.5D matte paintings and set extensions were crafted by MPC’s environment team to recreate Modena’s local racetrack which once sat at the edge of the city, now a park. Production refurbished a derelict track for the shoot and VFX provided CG backgrounds of the city, 3D set extensions of the track were used to extend bleacher and pit areas, curbs, grass, and trees to recreate the 1957 esthetic. The VFX studio also got the opportunity to re-create the exterior façade of the Ferrari factory, reconstructing the building and the street environment using archival photo references.
For the 1957 French Grand Prix at Rouen-Les-Essarts, MPC’s environment team removed modern barriers and fencing and added period-accurate signage of the now modernised racing circuit at Imola which doubles for France. The sequence ends with a Ferrari driving through a fiery crash, created in full CG asset cars, FX simulations provided fire and smoke to blackout the racetrack.
The studio’s FX artists helped enhance various crashes throughout the film. Stunt cars were launched through the air and the VFX team then tracked, mapped and replaced missing pieces or removed stunt rigging and added crash damage. Digi-double drivers were added when the danger was too high. Digi-double crowds were used to enhance the number of extras lining the streets of the Mille Miglia race to give the necessary scale for the infamous race event.
The now famous crash of the Ferrari 335 driven by racing driver De-Portago is the climax of the third act and holds an emotional weight over the entire film and special emphasis had to be put on this sequence. The VFX studio’s onset team worked closely with SFX to execute an elaborate and visceral crash, with SFX hurling an actual SFX-rigged Ferrari down the road into a dummy crowd. VFX tracked and mapped the CG 335 Ferrari asset to the practical crash, replacing pieces obscured by stunt rigging. Crowd elements were filmed on a separate pass to provide initial pre-crash elements then a digi-double takeover was completed as the car made contact with the crowd. As much car environment destruction as possible was taken from the original plate with FX added to complement and enhance the photography.