Key Sequences from Marvel’s The Avengers

The Avengers

As mentioned days ago, at least ten visual effects companies are credited for their work on the anticipated assembly of Marvel’s The Avengers. And now Mike Seymour of fxguide has assembled a rundown on all the vfx studios – ILM, Weta Digital, Hydraulx, Fuel VFX, Evil Eye Pictures, Luma Pictures, Trixter, Whiskytree, Digital Domain, The Third Floor and more – and their specific contributions to the movie. Highlighting key sequences, check out excerpts from the full-length rundown (link below) in addition to new still photos.

Hulk and Loci Sequence


Labeling the “puny god” scene between Loki and Hulk a hybrid shot, where the Goliath slams the mischief-maker around Tony Stark’s pad, ILM’s vfx supervisor Jeff White says it blended captured face & body animation with key frame animation. Dotting particularly on the dialogue lip sync for the Hulk’s “puny god” line, White says, “He has some interesting mouth shapes there, when we first applied the motion capture, he looked a little ‘fish lipped’ – it was difficult for us, as there was quite a lot of subtlety – just a few pixels difference on where his eye lids were or where his eye brow was – could really change his expression quite a bit. That shot in particular, with him delivering that line of dialogue – we spent a lot of time in animation – just tuning the shape of the mouth and tuning the delivery – to get it just right,” says White.

Hulk and Loci Sequence

Launching the SHIELD Plane

Several VFX companies contributed to the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, one of which is Scanline VFX who finished early reveal shots of the ship. The company’s supervisor Bryan Grill reveals, “There were a couple of shots where we were looking at the water and you couldn’t tell if it was getting ready to submerge, so we took a lot of care to make sure we didn’t give the gag up too early. Once you start seeing it lift out of the water and see the fans, you get what it’s going to be. For this,” notes Grill, “we received ILM’s model and then added more detail where we needed. We would throw it through every one of our cameras that we were going to be rendering. They allowed us to add things in as well and also to keep the scale, so that when we did get to the water sims it did look like a three football fields-long thing. And then our updated models also went back to ILM to Weta for some of their shots as well.”

Dotting on the Helicarrier’s cloaking device, Grill says We wanted it to look like it was technology that might exist. There’s a lot of new technology coming out where materials or paints have LED-type of science. That’s what we based it off – a film or paint on the outside of the carrier. It’s out there now in real life – you can print on any material and have it light up with LED lights. We referenced the idea of a Jumbotron at a sporting event which when it activates you see the pixels light up. And so we took that all the way to the point of seeing the clouds distorted and refracted. It wasn’t 100% invisible – there’s almost that almost Predator outline – but if you were far away you would never know it was there. It was all UV driven. We got the UVs of the carrier and the attached pieces and started creating different wipes and smaller subsets of transitions.”

Hawkeye’s Attack

For the sequence involving Hawkeye flying up to the Helicarrier, under Loki’s mind-control, which followed with Captain America and Iron Man attempting to repair the blown up rotors, Weta Digital used shared assets from ILM to worked on these shots.

Weta visual effects supervisor Guy Williams says, “Firstly we came up with a new paint scheme for the Quinjet Hawkeye was in to make it look like a mercenary jet, as opposed to one of the S.H.I.E.L.D ones. Then we took ILM’s model of the Helicarrier and dressed in a lot of dressing, so we had lots of little pieces of the Helicarrier that we could then paint back onto it. So when we got into a close-up we would add double the amount of polygons that you’re seeing in the frame, and all these little piping and boxes and hatches detail all over the surface. The closer you got to it, you still felt like you were getting more detail.”

Weta’s last contribution involving the Helicarrier featured Loki tricking Thor into the iso-cell, and then sending him plunging to the ground. Williams joked, “In every shot he fell through clouds – every shot! It helped with showing him falling, even though there aren’t that many layers of clouds normally. It was a bit of a cheat but it allowed us to get a sense of travel and scale. That first shot – where you’re looking up at the Helicarrier and the iso-cell whip pans passed you and you travel with it as it falls down along a cliff face of a cloud. The fact that it’s all three-dimensional really gives you a sense of vertigo and a sense you’re falling with the iso-cell.”

“We also tracked Thor for all the 3D shots and then rendered back a digi double for all the reflections on the glass,” explains Wiliams. “And we ray traced the iso cell into the glass so you also saw the proper occlusions of light and sky in the glass. But we sometimes had to turn those off because what looks correct isn’t always correct. But we always set out to do what’s right first, because if you start from there you’re always at a much better point than if you just ignore realism and try to be artistic. You’re still being artistic but you’re basing it on what the eye can see.”

There’s much, MUCH more key sequences from the movie highlighted in the complete rundown. Among them including Thor’s battle Iron Man, the Helicarrier bridge, Tony Stark’s HUD view and the closing credits sequence, hit the jump over to the head on over to the FxGuide. And check out additional stills from the article below!

VFX – Making of The Avengers


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