Cinesite completed a visual effects key sequence for Marvel Studios’ new release, Ant-Man, directed by Peyton Reed and released in the US and UK on July 17th. Marvel VFX supervisor was Jake Morrison and VFX producer Diana Giorgiutti.
Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.
Following a fight in a helicopter above the city, Ant-Man and his nemesis Yellowjacket use their shrinking powers to continue fighting inside a suitcase. Cinesite’s shots pick up where the suitcase is flung from the exploding helicopter and lands in a swimming pool, next to a family barbecue. As the suitcase lands in the pool, the heroes return to full size to continue their battle.
As Yellowjacket emerges, dripping from the pool, he is entirely computer generated. The water cascading and dripping from his suit was created as water particle effects in SideFX Houdini, using a custom micro-solver. Original footage of Stoll was match-moved and tracked back to Cinesite’s CG character.
“Using assets supplied by Production, we turned around fully lit renders in a very short space of time, delivering completed shots within just 10 weeks,” says Cinesite VFX supervisor Simon Stanley-Clamp. “It was a short, fun sequence to work on, an exciting action scene involving both key characters slugging it out.”
From the swimming pool battle, Ant-Man forces Yellowjacket inside the house, sending him smashing through a window, flying in slow motion through macro splinters of glass and wood, as he shrinks down in size. Rendering of the glass involved multiple reflections and refractions, combined with working in a very short depth of field to enhance the miniaturized sense of scale. Key-frame animation was used for Yellowjacket’s movement.
The shrinking effect, known by Production as the “disco shrink” was created using look development based on the original comic book, in which repeated stamped images show the characters gradually reducing down in a stuttered zoetrope-like series of frames. In the movie, exaggerated still frames are combined with 3D and overlapping action to give a similar effect. It was important that Cinesite matched the “disco shrink” with other similar shots in the film.
As the battle continues, other work by Cinesite includes the creation of a full CG helmet for Ant-Man, with animated opening visor and mouth piece, Yellowjacket’s devastating plasma blasts, and the final shots in the sequence.