Upgrade is a sci-fi thriller set in the near future. It’s a film rooted in classic sci-fi, but with healthy doses of horror and action.

The story follows Grey Trace, a self-identified technophobe who lives in a world where technology controls nearly all aspects of life. Grey’s world is turned upside down after his wife is murdered and he is left paralysed following a brutal mugging. His only hope for revenge is an experimental computer chip implant called Stem.

Director Leigh Whannell wanted to craft a film that felt like it punched above its budgetary weight. The film was firmly grounded in practical set pieces to allow the actors to play off physical sets. Whannell liked the notion that the actors were moving and performing in real environments and wanted to avoid any green screen studio work. This meant the team had to blend VFX seamlessly into the footage so as to add the futuristic elements that couldn’t be achieved in camera.

As the lead VFX provider, Cutting Edge’s team worked closely with Whannel from early in the film’s pre-production. Initial conversations revealed the kind of film he wanted to create and how our VFX team could contribute. Key CG additions helped to elevate the visuals, creating a realistic technological world. VFX sequences included futuristic cityscapes, holographics, drones, futuristic weaponry, set extensions and CG cars.

“That first conversation with Leigh was a great insight into what films he liked and what type of film he wanted to make. After he explained the synopsis we were pretty keen to be a part of it and could clearly see exactly how we could contribute.”

Jonathan Dearing / VFX Supervisor / Cutting Edge