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How Mar­vel or­ches­trated its epic air­port dust-up.

The ac­tion cen­tre­piece of An­thony and Joe Russo’s epic su­per­hero show­down is a stun­ning bat­tle be­tween two ri­val fac­tions of Avengers at an evac­u­ated Ger­man air­port. How did they sync the sched­ules of so many stars to chore­o­graph a scrap that must have taken weeks to shoot, you might ask. Easy – they did the whole scene dig­i­tally (well, pretty much), and made such a good job of it that no­body no­ticed.

It was a tough ask. The Cap­tain Amer­ica movies pride them­selves, af­ter all, on a real-world feel. “Win­ter Sol­dier… could have been a ’70s thriller, or a Bourne movie,” said ILM visual ef­fects su­per­vi­sor Rus­sell Earl. “Get­ting to Civil War, it was, ‘How is that go­ing

to work on this one?’” Good ques­tion. It’s not easy bring­ing gritty au­then­tic­ity to scenes that po­si­tion Cap as the eye of a su­per­hero storm swirling with Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawk­eye, Win­ter Sol­dier, Ant-Man, Gi­ant-Man, Spi­der-Man, Fal­con, Scar­let Witch,

Black Pan­ther, War Ma­chine and Vi­sion. Step one was to de­scend on Leipzig/Halle Air­port armed with LiDAR scan­ners – the hun­dreds of pic­tures and mea­sure­ments gleaned from the recce then al­lowed ILM to repli­cate the ex­act ge­om­e­try of the air­port and to recre­ate all ve­hi­cles – planes, cars, lug­gage load­ers. This in turn al­lowed the back­drop to be tweaked and aug­mented, mean­ing it could be matched to Ant-Man’s half-inch scale, Gi­ant-Man’s 50ft scale, or any­thing in be­tween.

The heroes with­out masks (Cap, Black Widow, Hawk­eye, Win­ter Sol­dier – played, re­spec­tively, by Chris Evans, Scar­lett Jo­hans­son, Jeremy Ren­ner and Se­bas­tian Stan) were shot a lit­tle on lo­ca­tion and a lot against a gi­ant green­screen in At­lanta, while the oth­ers were 100 per cent dig­i­tal. It wasn’t al­ways in­tended this way – a park­our ex­pert was hired to don Spidey’s suit, and Mar­vel planned to put a stunt­man inside Black Pan­ther’s out­fit. But ILM stepped in, broad­en­ing Black Pan­ther’s chest to make for a more im­pos­ing fig­ure, and lay­er­ing cloth sim­u­la­tion upon mus­cle sim­u­la­tion to ren­der Spidey in his all-new Tony Starkcre­ated tech-suit, then mix­ing in Tom Hol­land’s mo-cap per­for­mance. Even Gi­ant-Man, who Earl de­scribes as “a big, drunk baby”, was mod­elled on footage of Paul Rudd per­form­ing the scene for real.

Oh, and one more thing: the live-ac­tion el­e­ments were shot on IMAX Alexa 65 cam­eras – just one more rea­son this bar-rais­ing set-piece achieves max­i­mum im­pact. JG

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