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March / April 2019

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Page 17 of 51 16 POST MAR/APR 2019 VISUAL EFFECTS aptain Marvel, one of Walt Disney Pictures' and Marvel Studios' most anticipated films, features for the first time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a female superhero lead. Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson steps into the role of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, and stars alongside Marvel alums Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson, as well as Jude Law as the intergalactic warrior Yon-Rogg. From the box office numbers in the US alone, over $321M at press time, audiences are receptive. Thus far, it's the top-grossing film of 2019 worldwide. Set in the 1990s, Captain Marvel opens with Danvers already in possession of her super powers and part of an inter- galactic elite Kree military team called Starforce, led by their commander, Yon-Rogg. Through a series of events, she ends up on Earth and crosses paths with Fury, which raises questions about her, perhaps, Earthly past. On Earth, she becomes caught up in the middle of a battle between the Krees and the Skrulls, alien "bad guys" who also have the ability to shape-shift and who have plans to invade Earth. Captain Marvel is directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson, Sugar, Mississippi Grind) and executive produced by Louis D'Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Jonathan Schwartz, Patricia Whitcher and Stan Lee. The creative team includes DP Ben Davis (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Marvel Studios' Doctor Strange), edi- tors Elliot Graham (Steve Jobs, Molly's Game) and Debbie Berman (Marvel Studios' Black Panther, Spider-Man: Homecoming) and visual effects su- pervisor Christopher Townsend (Marvel Studios' Avengers: Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2). Townsend was responsible for leading a huge team of VFX studios and pros — with a toolbag that includes Nuke for compositing, Maya for modeling and animation, and Arnold, Renderman and VRay — through the stages of creating more than 2,200 VFX shots, including otherworldly environments, spaceship battles, CG cats and other characters, superpowers, fight scenes, building 1990s Earth and de-aging actors Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg. Contributing vendors include Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Trixter, Lola, Digital Domain, Scanline VFX, Rise Visual Effects, Framestore, Rising Sun Pictures, Animal Logic, Luma Pictures and more. Here, Townsend speaks exclusively with Post about the challenges of creating the world of Captain Marvel. You've worked on numerous Marvel films — Iron Man, Captain America, Avengers, Guardians — how do the VFX on this film compare to others you've worked on? "One of the really interesting things of this film is the directors, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, come from a very indie film background, so because of that, their prior experience is very much char- acter pieces. It's very interesting that they brought that dynamic and visual aesthetic and storytelling vibe to this film. I think one of the challenges on this one in particular, from a visual effects point of view, is being able to create work that for a lot of the time, isn't front an center. It's quietly done behind the scenes that hopefully you don't notice. "There's a lot of work that we've done to sort of create the vibe of the '90s where a lot of the film takes place. We have a lot of youthening work on Sam Jackson because it's set in the '90s, so 25 to 30 years back in time. Hopefully, in a way that audienc- es never question it. I think there will be that first gasp of 'wow,' when you first see [Jackson], like, 'That's cool. But then peo- ple will just then forget about it. "We also have a cat in the film, which is in about a hundred shots, so he's kind of a star player in a co-starring role. We used real cats on set but there's also an awful lot of CG cats — about two-thirds of the shots of the cats in the film are CG. And again, they were done, hopefully, in a way that the audience never notices it. "There's also a lot of invisible effects work, that tries to keep in the same tone and vibe and the visual language the directors set up — a sort of indie natural- istic filmmaking. "And, of course, we have a lot of the other, sort of bombastic, spectacular superhero stuff as well. "The work wasn't really revolutionary that was created, but it was more of an evolution of effects and techniques. It's been a lot of fun from a visual effects aspect working on this film." How did you determine Captain Marvel's superpowers? "Trying to find the aesthetic for her superpowers was incredibly difficult. We had lots of discussions about how, when she's gone full binary, which is when she's MARVEL STUDIO'S CAPTAIN MARVEL BY LINDA ROMANELLO BUILDING THE WORLD OF THE FRANCHISE'S FIRST FEMALE SUPERHERO C In full binary mode. Artists needed to de-age Jackson. Townsend

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