Winner of the category “Best VFX” 2016: Rise FX with Captain America
The glut of superhero films has one tremendous advantage; VFX studios all over the world are now working at full capacity on a wide range of versatile FX projects in all departments. For example, a total of 3,000 VFX shots were necessary for the film “Captain America: Civil War”. More precisely, the Berlin-based company Rise | Visual Effects Studio was responsible for the roughly 360 shots involved in the 10-minute “Lagos heist sequence”. The multifaceted VFX work done by Rise was carried out at an exceptionally high level and garnered the immediate admiration of the animago jury across the board.
The biggest challenge facing Rise on this project was the sheer variety of tasks; the Lagos sequence called for the creation of assorted digi-doubles, FX simulations, body extensions, CG weapons, set extensions and much more. The extremely high number of CG characters, effects and environments meant that Rise was faced with a new level of complexity; in fact, so much happens with the effects in each frame that it’s hard to even comprehend it all at first glance.
Seeing as Rise had already worked on other Marvel productions – in particular on the “Captain America” films – it was clear from the beginning that the German studio would be on board again for the effects on “Civil War”. For such a big project, the Lidar services offered by the Rise subsidiary Pointcloud9 were highly beneficial, especially for the CG environments.
Atlanta becomes Lagos
The Lagos sequence was actually shot in Atlanta, Georgia; only after the post-production process would the original backplates look like the Nigerian megacity. For the creation of the huge Lagos environment, the team organised a visit to Puerto Rico, where they shot textures and plates and did some Lidar scanning. Rise then developed environment replacements and enhancements using previs created for the sequence by The Third Floor.
Digital stunt doubles
These days, it’s no longer possible for even the best stunt doubles to do the things film-superheroes can. For this reason, digital CG versions of Falcon, Crossbones and Scarlet Witch were created using photogrammetry data delivered by Direct Dimension. Falcon’s wings existed only as a miniature prop built by Legacy Effects for lighting-reference purposes. ILM did give Rise the Falcon asset from “Ant-Man” for use as a starting point. The team designed Falcon’s wings completely new for “Civil War”, seeing as they were going to be featured in an extreme close-up and also be equipped with a new shield for the purpose of deflecting bullets.
One scene has Scarlet Witch flying in a high arc through the air, and this meant that her CG double needed authentic cloth and hair simulations. The “magic” coming out of her hands also needed to have a different look than in the previous films; indeed, in the new instalment, Scarlet is able to control and strengthen her powers, and the team wanted to be able to reflect this visually.
Crossbone‘s costume consists of many individual parts, including a belt, armour and tank parts that are handled by the 3D scan as one closed surface. In order to be able to work on everything individually, the Rise team broke it down into individual parts; they also animated Crossbone’s hydraulic “punchy gauntlets”.
Gas, be gone!
The poisonous gas thrown by the bad guys into the building was created using Pyro in Houdini. Rise built slowly moving fluid containers and tracked the cameras – as well as the sets created with the Lidar scanner – into the plate. In order to have complete control over the holdouts and the defocus, the gas was rendered as a Deep-EXR file; compositing supervisor Paul Schlie from Rise’s Stuttgart unit was responsible for ensuring the correct scattering of the light sources. Scarlet Witch uses her magic powers to suck the gas out of the house, which meant that it had to be moveable; in order to achieve this, Rise took a spline-based approach that could be dragged along using forces.
Project duration & team
Rise got the project underway in November 2014 with the Lidar scanning of Leipzig Airport. The final delivery of the 360 shots took place in March 2016. A total of roughly 120 artists were involved in the Lagos sequence. Rise’s location in Stuttgart had just opened at the time, and they were able to work closely together with Berlin.
VFX Studio: Rise | Visual Effects Studios – Client: Marvel Studios – VFX-Supervisor: Dan DeLeeuw – VFX-Producer: Jen Underdahl – Country: Germany, USA – Software: ZBrush, Modo, Mari, Maya, Houdini, Nuke
Here are the two other nominees in the category “Best Visual Effects”:
Rodeo FX „Game of Thrones – Season 5“
Rise FX „The Man from U.N.C.L.E.“