There is no denying that we were daunted by the challenge of recreating the iconic Ben-Hur Chariot Race, widely considered one of the best action sequences in cinematic history. This challenge forced us to push the boundaries, whether that meant writing proprietary PBR skin, fur and hair for our digital horses, or custom animating and dynamically simulating each and every chariot shot. The end result is some of the best work MR.X has ever done.Dennis Berardi, VFX Supervisor
One of the most celebrated Technicolor films of the last century was director William Wyler’s 1959 classic, Ben-Hur, winner of 11 Academy Awards – including Best Picture. The film’s most memorable moment, a heart-pounding chariot race that left viewers clinging to their seats, set the standard for action sequences in modern filmmaking for decades to come.
That same classic sequence also set a challenging benchmark for director Timur Bekmambetov’s creative team in their 2016 re-telling of Ben-Hur. That’s why they called upon Technicolor’s MR. X for the film’s amazing chariot race sequence.
Undaunted by the technical and artistic complexity of the chariot race sequence, the MR. X team created visual effects that blended seamlessly with the principal photography. This included creating and animating 32 horses, eight chariots, and eight charioteers, a process taking over 18 months to complete. They simulated each horse’s muscles, skin, and hair to an amazing level of detail.
For the film’s all-important Circus Tiberius set, MR. X digitally up-scaled a physically-constructed 675ft-long chariot racing stadium into a true cinematic spectacle having 60,000 spectators with motion-captured performances and attire representative of the various diverse Mediterranean cultures of the time.
The Ben-Hur 360° Video Experience
Leveraging some of the film’s most photo-realistic cinematic elements, MR.X created a groundbreaking 360° video sequence that puts you in the driver’s seat – or chariot – in this case. Experienced from a charioteer’s first-person point of view, now audiences can see what it’s like to race Circus Tiberius with remarkable realism. Take the reins now in this breathtaking 360° chariot race.