Don your cape, grab your scythe, and straighten your helmet (oh, and try to stay on your feet) as Marvel welcomes you into the epic combat depicted in ‘Strike Force’, the brand’s explosive teaser released ahead of the game launch.
Mill+ Los Angeles Directors Robert Sethi and David Lawson had the pleasure of teaming up with barrettSF to deliver the action-packed visuals, complete with an exploding Tesla because, why not?! Created entirely in CG, ‘Strike Force’ utilized motion capture technology and a virtual camera system to bring a lineup of legendary superheroes to life.
Robert and David comment, "The CG team went above and beyond by making the most incredibly detailed landscape for the project. They also came up with additional creative options and executions outside of the given narrative, which we integrated into the piece.”
We had a chance to catch up with some of the project’s lead VFX artists to learn all about how the intricate work came together. Scroll to read all about it!
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced?
Martin Karlsson, 2D Lead Artist
Crafting an incredible number of pieces and carefully putting them together to create a cohesive narrative was a substantial undertaking. Also, finding the right balance in compositing for the hyperreal and stylized look was one of the biggest elements our team discussed, played with and, hopefully, eventually found.
Daniel Stern, FX Lead
There were a lot of diverse FX tasks for us to carry out, which posed a fun and creative challenge. We created around 60 in total, from missile explosions shrouded in full-screen photoreal clouds, all the way to bullet shells falling out of a machine gun.
Can you share some key achievements of the work?
Chris Bayol, CG Supervisor
I think we found a successful style for placing these characters somewhere between a game universe and a universe more physically-based. We chose to embrace certain qualities such as the large eyes of the main character, his chiseled facial structure and exaggerated body proportions. Add in some physically-based shading, lighting and rendering, and we ended up with a very interesting look!
Adam Scott, Head of Colour
It was a really collaborative effort. It was great that the team was able to come into the suite daily, as it allowed them to see the work on the monitor and make adjustments in real-time. We were able to start developing a look we were happy with, which then highlighted certain aspects that may not have fit quite right. Because the work was done in CG, the artists could then go back and adjust those pieces.
We achieved the Marvel look and kept true to the detailed look of the characters. There's some coolness to the piece, along with some warm tones, and the colours were strong so the characters stood out.
Jacob Bergman, Animation Supervisor
I’m really happy with the way our motion capture-to-animation pipeline worked out. When shooting the motion capture portion of the spot, we were able to use the TEC stage, just next door to The Mill LA. That meant we were able to quickly bring that footage over to our studio, enabling us to start animating on the fly.
Also, a special thanks to the previz team for laying down the fundamentals and for working with us to carry over some cameras into our animations!
Ed Laag, Matte Painter
This was a very unique project that required the matte-painting and FX department to work in tandem to create the skyscapes, and to ensure that both the background and foreground blended together to create a believable and aesthetically pleasing environment.
To overcome the hurdle of crafting the iconic Avengers tower in a tight time frame, I built a simple facade of the building and painted over it. We wanted to make sure we had that Easter egg for the fans to enjoy!
What was your favorite part of the job?
Daniel Stern, FX Lead
It was basically an FX artist's candy shop! All of the fun, high-impact tasks were turned around quickly. We even had the opportunity to craft additional elements such as the building collapse and explosions in the city.
Chris Bayol, CG Supervisor
It was really fun crafting the destroyed city. It involved combining assets in our library and putting new pieces together, and then letting the FX team set it on fire. It was really exciting each time we saw a new shot rendered with the city.
This was a dream job to work on. It has all the elements that get artists excited. Well-known characters, fun vehicles, explosions and lasers. The whole team had a lot of fun putting it together.
Also, we couldn't finish the spot without finding a way to get Iron Man in there, so you may notice something fun that Captain America has on the dash of the Quinjet Cockpit…
‘Strike Force’ was selected as Editor’s Pick on Creativity, which you can check out here!