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Avengers: Endgame Visual Effects Breakdowns

Avengers: Endgame Visual Effects Breakdowns

Avengers: Endgame is an upcoming American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team the Avengers, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is intended to be the direct sequel to 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, as well as a sequel to 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers and 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and the 22nd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film is directed by Anthony and Joe Russo with a screenplay by the writing team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and features an ensemble cast with many actors from previous MCU films.

The film was announced in October 2014 as Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2. The Russo brothers came on board to direct in April 2015, and by May, Markus and McFeely signed on to script the film. In July 2016, Marvel removed the film’s title, referring to it simply as Untitled Avengers film. Filming began in August 2017 at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Fayette County, Georgia, shooting back-to-back with Avengers: Infinity War, and ended in January 2018. Additional filming took place in the Downtown and Metro Atlanta areas. The title, Avengers: Endgame, was officially revealed in December 2018.

The film is scheduled to be released in the United States on April 26, 2019, in IMAX and 3D.

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Avengers: Endgame VFX by Framestore

Framestore, It all comes down to this. A culmination of over ten years of movies, Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame marks the end of an era for both Marvel Studios and Framestore. Having worked their magic on eleven films in the build-up to this epic finale, the creative studio was excited to jump on board to tackle some key sequences and characters – ultimately delivering over 300 shots of super-powered VFX.

Smart Hulk

Framestore was tasked with breathing life into a ‘Smart Hulk,’ a never-seen-before Bruce Banner / Hulk hybrid. Balancing the human performance of Banner and the seismic power of the Hulk required a deft mix of cutting-edge tech and Framestore’s world-renowned animation, and the result is a striking fully-CG character whose unique performance is loaded with human nuance, emotion and comedy. To kick-start this process, a small team at Framestore were tasked with developing their machine-learning technology to take source footage of Mark Ruffalo and create a solve from that to match it in animation; ‘it was a way of convincing the client that we had the software that could do this quickly,’ explains Robert Allman, CG Supervisor. The result was a first pass of animation that could be used by the filmmakers to decide on the edit and begin the process of refining and adding face-shapes to use in the rig. Keyframe animation was then deployed for over 60 Smart Hulk shots, with head cam footage from the shoot used for reference. This performance was key for the animators on the film, ‘it was absolutely about channeling Bruce Banner,’ explains Max Solomon, Animation Supervisor. ‘His face is very expressive. Every nuance, every little twitch and eye dart, slight curl of the lip and muscle tension needed to be translated.’

‘His face is very expressive. Every nuance, every little twitch and eye dart, slight curl of the lip and muscle tension needed to be translated.’ – Max Solomon – Animation Supervisor.

Smart Hulk’s facial build was particularly challenging, as VFX Supervisor Stuart Penn explains: ‘There was a lot of work involved as their face shapes are so different – Hulk is massive, his mouth proportionally bigger, his eyes are sunken with deeper sockets. Tiny changes to his face had a huge effect on the performance.’ A new subset of facial shapes was built to enable the animators to achieve more complex and nuanced expression and give them more control in the animation.

Rocket Returns

The studio were also tasked with animating Rocket. The wise-talking raccoon returned to Framestore, who originated his character for Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy, before upgrading him for Vol. 2. A little greyer around the muzzle, he required careful tweaking. Says Allman, ‘changes had to be subtle as small tweaks could make him look like a completely different character or even animal.’ Rocket was treated to a new flight suit, complete with a dapper red scarf and goggles, ‘there was a lot of detail to the costume,’ says Penn, ‘building the threads, adding a fine groom, right down to the texture of the bobbles of his scarf.’

‘There was a lot of detail to the costume – building the threads, adding a fine groom, right down to the texture of the bobbles of his scarf.’ – Stuart Penn – VFX Supervisor.

Suit Up

The Avengers wear Quantum suits made of high-tech armoured cloth and carbon fibre which they don to travel through the quantum realm. The actors had been shot in their individual outfits, so Framestore built digi-doubles before replacing the costumes on the ten characters made up of an array of body types and proportions; ranging from Rocket and Black Widow to Nebula and Hulk. Based on concepts provided by Marvel Studios, the artists built a prototype suit for Captain America that was then adapted for each Avenger. These suits then had to manifest over their original outfits using the nanobot technology Framestore developed for Iron Man’s bleeding-edge Infinity War suit. Their helmets, based on Ant Man’s, also needed to be built in CG and manifest in the same way over the actor’s face. ‘The helmet is a snug but mechanical design,’ adds Allman. ‘We used the nanobot tech to give the impression that it comes out of nowhere.’

‘We had a lot of freedom to work with the brief – in terms of the opticals, colour and luminosity.’ – Robert Allman – CG Supervisor.

Quantum Effects

The team also had the chance to use their creativity to create a series of mesmerising quantum effects. Ant Man’s ‘Quantum van,’ which first features at the end of Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and The Wasp, is revisited in Endgame as the Avengers test how it works. Says Penn, ‘we had to match the original effect and then amp it up as there’s a lot more going on; we had a lot more shots and see it from different angles.’ Framestore built the whole model; based on scans from the original, combining comp, lighting and FX to achieve the look. 2D LookDev Lead Tomas Lefebve used Nuke to get as close to the original look as possible before breaking it apart to decide on which elements needed 3D FX. Says Enrik Pavdeja, Compositing Supervisor, ‘we worked up lots of optical FX in compositing; heat distortions, colour breakup, aberrations and even our own blue plasma. We passed these pre-comps to lighting to create the interactive quantum plasma before FX.’

This effect is magnified with the build of the Quantum Gate, the Avengers’ time travel portal that features in 22 spellbinding shots. ‘We had a lot of freedom to work with the brief – in terms of the opticals, colour and luminosity’, says Allman. The gate has a similar look to the van but needed to be much more geometry-based, integrating with the shrinking Avengers and FX. Says Pavdeja, ‘A lot of the view of the characters was from the top down and we had to show them not only shrinking but falling down in 3D space – quite a difficult thing to do in 2D. We started to employ a lot more optical effects; time echoes, a few flares thrown in there, atmospherics, smoke, heat distortions, aberrations and some lens-tilt to achieve a marriage between foreground and background.’

World-building

Complex CG environments were also required, with Framestore crafting much of the Avengers hangar base, replacing green screen shot on location of the interior space, as well as exterior views from the windows. The team then turned to an establishing shot of an environment which they knew intimately: Asgard. Having destroyed it in Marvel Studios’ Thor: Ragnarok, Framestore were required to piece it back together. ‘Our Asgard was synced into FX and the destruction we did for Ragnarok so the challenge was working out which version of what would be the one to use,’ says Allman. The sequence originally began with a shot of Odin’s tower from over the mountains, which the team worked on for six months before a decision to switch to the more traditional front view point was made. Says Penn, ‘miraculously we just switched the camera, rendered it and were surprised to discover that it actually worked. It also made for a much better shot.’

Framestore delighted in being part of the creative team behind the VFX of Avengers: Endgame: the epic conclusion to the first 22 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From bringing Smart Hulk into the MCU, revisiting Rocket, building environments and futuristic FX, the film presented a variety of different challenges that the team relished.

Avengers: Endgame VFX by Cinesite

Avengers: Endgame is the sixth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe which Cinesite has contributed visual effects to. The latest record-breaking box office smash includes 264 of our shots, which were overseen by Cinesite VFX supervisor Simon Stanley-Clamp.

Endgame picks up where Avengers: Infinity War left off, when half of life in the universe was destroyed with a single snap of Thanos’ fingers. Five years later, the remaining Avengers assemble once more to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe.

The iconic sequence where Tony Stark is lost in space on board Quill’s M-Ship was largely down to Cinesite. We created the exterior shots of the ship, which show the loneliness and isolation of its position in space, as well as what we see through the ship’s windscreen. We also blackened Nebula’s eyes and added her robotic arm in CG.

The exciting chase of Hawkeye by the terrifying Outriders beneath the rubble of the Avengers’ base was also our work. With eight limbs for each creature and a great deal of interaction between them, the choreography of the action was a particular challenge.

We created a number of animation cycles to reflect the multiple ways the Outriders move – running, climbing, crawling and leaping. Although Hawkeye is fast, the Outriders are faster. It quickly became apparent in blocking the animation for the shots, that their strength in numbers was also their weakness within a tunnel environment. They get in each other’s way in a confined space, each intent on its prey, regardless of the actions of the others. The scenes were blocked out and the animation subsequently refined for each creature, ensuring convincing interaction with the tunnel environment.

Much of our work involved revisiting scenes from previous Marvel movies Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). For those, it was important to match the content and tone of the original film. Rhodey and Nebula’s brief encounter with Quill from Guardians is one such example. The action takes place on the deserted planet Morag. As the M-Ship’s escape pod descends to the surface, four full CG shots show the planet from various angles. One wide shot was created to match an original view, but in the modern version the viewers’ perspective is slightly shifted to the left. Greenscreen shots of the actors were extended 100% by adding columns, ruined architecture, dripping water and foliage.

Cinesite also created visual effects for the subsequent sequence where Nebula captures the orb, damaging her arm in the process.

Environments were a key aspect of our work, including the recreation of 1970s Camp Lehigh from Captain America: The First Avenger. In one shot, where we see Stark walking across a busy forecourt, the camera tilts up to reveal the full extent of the base. This was created using a combination of CG buildings and vehicles, and populating the scene using bluescreen elements of hundreds of extras retimed and repositioned on cards placed in Nuke to fill out the shot.

Our team also created a time travel sequence set in Marvel’s The Avengers in New York city, which involved Ant-Man sabotaging Tony Stark’s chest RT, to create a diversion.

The latest film is the sixth Marvel Studios production Cinesite is proud to have worked on.

Avengers: Endgame VFX by Territory Studio

Territory Studio, It’s been a huge privilege to be part of Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame. We can’t wait to show you our work for the film.

Avengers: Endgame VFX by The Third Floor

The Third Floor, An Infinitely Memorable Journey – Avengers: Endgame.

Twenty-two films, six Infinity Stones and one monumental finger snap later, the first set of motion pictures in the Marvel Cinematic Universe draws to a close this week. THE THIRD FLOOR has been a key contributor to the Infinity saga, working on eighteen of the twenty-two movies, starting with 2010’s Iron Man 2. What an incredible journey for our artists over the last decade in the Marvel cine-verse, and as the dedicated visualization team for Avengers: Endgame!

Sr. Visualization Supervisor Gerardo Ramirez led THE THIRD FLOOR’s work, which covered 40 sequences, more than 7,300 shots and 100+ technical mockups, all in collaboration with Directors Anthony and Joe Russo, VFX Supervisor Dan Deleeuw, Film Editor Jeff Ford and multiple production departments.

“Our team of artists worked on almost every sequence in the film,” said Ramirez. “As with so many of the Marvel projects we’ve contributed to, there was an amazing focus on being able to really help develop original, dynamic action, to map out storytelling of scenes, come up with ideas and help work out important character moments. Additionally, we operated at a technical level to produce hundreds of shot breakdowns for on-set production and provided vfx vendors with scene files. From previs to techvis to postvis, it was a massive undertaking on this movie, yet so much fun and so gratifying to have contributed to how the lives and stories of these superheros and stories have played out over so many years.”

Avengers: Endgame VFX by Weta Digital

Weta Digital, Avengers: Endgame weaves the entire MCU saga together in the biggest superhero movie of all time.

We were responsible for the climactic final battle that plays out in the rubble of the Avenger’s compound. Our work features the biggest-ever battle in the MCU with almost every hero and villain unleashing their full potential.

VFX SUPERVISOR: Matt Aitken
ANIMATION SUPERVISOR: Sidney Kombo-Kintombo

Avengers: Endgame Credits

DradakVFX Breaksdown Avengers: Endgame’s VFX Credits.

The VFX industry is massive and not all of us can get a proper credit for our work, so here’s a small breakdown of every departments and artists involved from Framestore on Avengers: Endgame.

And same thing for the lovely people from ILM.

Adding these amazing people from Cinesite.

Directors: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo
Release Date: 26 April 2019 (USA)

The Production VFX Supervisors: Dan DeLeeuw and Swen Gillberg

The VFX are made by:
Industrial Light & Magic
Weta Digital
DNEG
Framestore
Cinesite
Digital Domain
RISE
Lola VFX
Cantina Creative
Capital T
Technicolor VFX
Territory Studio
The Third Floor

 

// For more info:

Official website of Marvel Studios
Official IMDB page of Avengers: Endgame

What do you think?

Written by VFX Online

VFX Online, now writing with a focus on Visual Effects and Animation and Gaming, writing at VFX Online Blog since 2016. VFX Online in India.

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