VFXTalk Interview Double Negative on Iron Man 2! –
November 10th, 2010,09:05 AM
Premiering in April earlier this year, Iron Man 2 was the highly anticipated and enthusiastically received sequel to the 2008 superhero film Iron Man. Directed by Jon Favreau, the comic book adventure featured some incredible visual effects, including those constructed for the commended ‘Monaco Sequence,’ created by world leading production facility Double Negative.
VFXTalk recently took up the opportunity to pose some questions to 2D Supervisor Victor Wade on how Double Negative processed their work on the film. The Double Negative team were guided under the renowned direction of overall VFX Supervisor Janek Sirrs on Iron Man 2.
Since its formation in 1998, Double Negative has firmly established itself as a leading player in visual effects production worldwide, and boasts more than 70 feature films to its credit. With offices in London and Singapore, the company is led by Managing Director Alex Hope and CEO Matt Holben.
Over the past 12 months, Double Negative has completed work on projects including; Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Inception, Iron Man 2, Kick-Ass, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Sherlock Holmes, The Wolfman, 2012, Green Zone, Angels &Demons and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
Iron Man 2
Director Jon Favreau and Oscar nominee Robert Downey Jr. were reunited for the highly anticipated sequel to the blockbuster film based on the legendary Marvel Super Hero ‘Iron Man’. In ‘Iron Man 2’ the world is aware that billionaire inventor Tony Stark is the armoured Super Hero Iron Man. Under intense pressure from the government, press and public to share his technology with the military, Tony is unwilling to divulge the secrets behind the Iron Man armour, fearing the information will slip into the wrong hands.
Led by Double Negative VFX Supervisor Ged Wright, 2D Supervisor Victor Wade and co-CG Supervisors Katherine Roberts and Jordan Kirk, the Dneg team completed around 250 shots in the Monaco sequence for Iron Man 2.
Double Negative's work on the Monaco Grand Prix sequence involved recreating race day in Monaco, including building augmentation, crowds and the historic Grand Prix cars. The team also produced Whiplash's electric whips, along with the associated damage and destruction.
The biggest challenge the Dneg team faced was in the realisation of the 'suitcase' armour that Stark implements to quickly suit up for the fight with Whiplash and the ensuing Iron Man vs. Whiplash Battle sequence.
Re-recreation of Race-Day Monaco, Crowds & Historic Grand-Prix Cars
DNeg created two highly detailed digital versions of each of the eleven cars which feature in the Historic Grand Prix race through the Monaco streets. Five art-department cars were built specifically for the Monaco sequence and six genuine vintage grand prix cars were brought in to make up the rest of the grid. The non-digital cars are only seen static on the starting line before the race begins.
Throughout the entire Monaco sequence sprite crowds and practical crowd elements were used to populate the Monaco stands and buildings, with CG agents used to break up the sprite crowd and perform any specific actions.
Whiplash's Electric Whips and Associated Damage & Destruction!
Producing a look for Whiplash's whips and the damage they cause to the cars, racing track and Iron Man himself, was a considerable challenge for the DNeg team. Drawing a parallel with the creation of the Mk I Iron Man suit in the previous Iron Man movie, the Whiplash rig is homemade and somewhat rough around the edges.
One of the most complex VFX tasks undertaken for the movie was creating the interaction of the whips with Iron Man. This 'Thermite' effect required a combination of all other ‘whip VFX’ to generate the smoking, molten metal that streams from Iron Man when the whips are wrapped around him.
Mk V Iron Man Armour and Suit-up
Some of the greatest technical and creative challenges on Iron Man 2 came from the 50 shots at the end of the sequence featuring the Mk V Iron Man 'suitcase' armour. This portion of work posed a couple of unique challenges, firstly the conceptual challenge of making the deployment and assembly of the armour plausible, and secondly the choreography of the close-quarters fight with Whiplash and Iron Man's interaction with a live-action performer to whom he's directly connected for much of the fight. The notion that Stark would have designed the Mk V to be as easy as possible to use led to the idea that the case can be deployed whilst still on the floor, so when Stark lifts it to his chest the armour is already partially formed.
In this interview Double Negative 2D Supervisor Victor Wade answers some general questions on the work process behind the Iron Man 2 project. VFXTalk would like to say a big thank you to Victor Wade for his time.
Can you tell us how the team at Double Negative felt before starting work on Iron Man 2, and the particular work the facility had been awarded?
Everyone was very excited about the work in the Monaco sequence and there was huge interest in getting onto the show.
How many shots were required for completion of your work on the film, and how long did the entire project take?
Around 250 shots. We worked on a proof of concept test for a couple of months before starting on the show which ran for a year.
How large is your visual effects team and how is it divided? Do the vfx artists do the compositing work as well?
The team size varies throughout the show up to 150 people in total but with a core team of around 80 crew. The work is allocated by discipline with Animators, Lighters, FX artists and compositors all working as a team.
How often do your clients visit your studio to see the shots in progress and are there any tools or procedures you use to make remote collaboration a smoother process?
Client reviews were regularly carried out via Cinesync. The clients came over to London every few months to review the progress in person.
What was the 'pre production to final stage' planning process you used to come up with the vfx shots for the film? What sort of freedom are you given in creating the looks for the sequences you are in charge of?
There was a route planned to final however things often changed quickly and dramatically during the course of the show and DNeg was frequently called upon to come up with creative solutions in collaboration with Janek Sirrs, the VFX supervisor on the studio side.
When your team is faced with the challenge of creating their effects what are the typical work patterns you follow? Is the final result always as you originally envisioned it, or does the process often change and adapt as new ideas or challenges arise?
The final result is broadly as expected but the creative and collaborative style of show meant continually having to come up with new and improved solutions to the work.
How do you work with the guys on-set? Do you have onset high-speed compositing artists or is all your post work done in house?
We have lots of reference material available on set to be able to better judge framing and composition of VFX shots. Compositing of CG and environments was carried out in post back in London.
What were the biggest challenges in term of visual effects in Iron Man 2 and how did you overcome them? Were there a different treatments or techniques required to achieve them? Which sequence was the hardest to work on, and why?
The work on IM2 covered a wide range of work including an extensive environment build, an entirely CG grand prix race, hero creature work for Iron Man, complex FX work for the whips and extensive prep work and clean up of stunt rigs and partial sets. Conceptually the most difficult shots were the suitcase suit transformation which required us to think creatively and devise a solution which appeared plausible within the Iron Man universe.
VFXTalk would like to thank Victor Wade for his time on this interview.
Last edited by VFXTalkDotCom; August 22nd, 2011 at 06:44 PM.