Immersed in Movies: Revisiting 'The Avengers' and Handicapping the VFX Oscar Race

Features
by Bill Desowitz
September 6, 2012 3:08 PM
1 Comment
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However, it turned out that the virtual New York City during the alien attack of the last third posed the biggest challenge. ILM couldn't shoot principal photography there but sent four teams of photographers shooting spherical overlaps at all the appropriate locations, especially the Park Avenue Viaduct. They shot on the ground every 100 feet and up every 120 feet with a man in a lift moving down Park Avenue. They made close to 2,000 spheres and stitched together 275,000 high-res photographs like a Google street view.

"In New Mexico, we had a 300-foot set of the Park Avenue Viaduct dressed with a couple of flipped over cars," White explained. "They don't care how much exploding you do in New Mexico. And then we projected that onto the buildings and that gets us 60% there. But once you move the camera, everything that's static in a photo no longer holds up. Not only does every window requires its own reflection, but also every window blind needs to be a different height and every room interior needs to be different. We replaced every window from the photography with a CG window and the inside the building contains nearly 30 of our ILM offices that we digitally reproduced.

"And we had tools that we actually developed for 'Rango' in terms of populating the town. And we leveraged those and built upon them in order to populate the environments of all the street signs and cars and planter boxes. One of the benefits of a virtual New York is that we can use that environment to light our CG creatures."

It all comes together in that memorable, iconic shot of the camera moving around the Avengers, who are huddled together and poised for action. It's seamless and not as flashy as the Hulk but effective VFX.

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1 Comment

  • D2 | September 7, 2012 10:16 AMReply

    This will never win Visual F/X. The Iron Man series has not won this category. The Hulk, Captain America and Thor films were not even nominated (even though Captain America, which featured the best, more subtle work of all of them). More does not always equal better for them anymore, unless it's something like Avatar or Inception, where the winner is obvious (as both were Best Picture contenders). For example:

    The Golden Compass over Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean 3

    Benjamin Button over Iron Man and The Dark Knight

    Hugo over Transformers 3, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

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