Here Is A VFX Breakdown Of The Viral ‘Challengers’ Tennis Sequence

Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers might be a titillating tennis adventure, but while everyone was focused on Zendaya taking such good care of her “little white boys,” others wondered: how the heck did they get some of these first-person tennis shots?

After the short clip made the rounds on the internet that features a shot from the POV of the tennis ball, VFX supervisor Brian Drewes posted a detailed breakdown of the scene. Surprisingly, it did not involve the Bee Movie method.

Drewes posted a video showing the creation of the final scene, which took over five hours to shoot. Drewes told IndieWire that he and Guadaginao had to map out the tricky scene with the help of Zero VF, a Massachusetts-bsed special effects company. “Before shooting, we broke the previs down into 23 discrete segments, all which needed to line up with each other. It definitely hurt my brain,” he explained. “To keep track, the vfx team at Zero had an editor on set to keep an up to date edit of what we were shooting, combined with the previs. This allowed me to know with confidence we were good to move on. The camera team did an especially awesome job on this film.”

For inspiration, the director told Drewes to channel the energy from the film into the action. shots. “In our very first meeting Luca described it super clearly: The audience needs to ‘BE THE BALL!!” he said, adding, “From that conversation I learned how kinetic he needed it to feel as an experience — it really was all in his mind’s eye quite early. This is absolutely what makes my job fun.”

Here is a visual break down of the moment:

And here are more details posted by Drewes:

•Started with a previs pass, animated to the timing of an actual tennis volley, which was approved by Luca prior to filming.
•Filming was overseen by the VFX team including VFX editorial support on set to confirm cut points were working as filming occurred.
•Filmed during a 5 hour window with an Arri Alexa LF on a 30′ technocrane.
•23 !!! individual shots were stitched together to create the final 24 second shot seen in the film.
•Highly detailed LiDar and photogrammetry scans of the tennis court environment were captured to help create the final models. 100+ actors and background extras were also photoscanned to populate the stands of our CG environment.
Full CG takeovers were done to smooth camera motion and correct time of day changes.

Stunt double faces were replaced with a combination of full CG heads and additional photography.

This advanced technology will come in hand when Bee Movie 2 is eventually green lit.

Challengers is currently in theaters and available for rent on demand.