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September 2014

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Page 23 of 51 22 POST SEPTEMBER 2014 MPC & Sony Pictures Imageworks Create Out of This World VFX FLYING HIGH: HOW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY SOARED THROUGH SUMMER s summer 2014 comes to an end, we need to acknowledge not only the number of blockbusters released in theaters, but also the huge role visual effects played in so many of this year's films. From Godzilla, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Edge of Tomorrow to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Into The Storm, the post production industry raised the bar with some outstanding and truly-noteworthy VFX. While Post has covered many of these films throughout the season, including our "VFX Wizards of Summer" feature in last month's issue, it seems that the biggest thrill ride came at the end of the 2014 summer season with Marvel Stu- dios' and Walt Disney Pictures' Guardians of the Galaxy. Grossing an estimated $251,884,000 at press time, surpassing its $170 million dollar production budget and going strong into September, Marvel Pictures fully created entirely new galax- ies, alien heroes and villains with high-oc- tane VFX. More than just a film, Marvel, along with director James Gunn, created a franchise. Guardians of the Galaxy, which stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and the voices of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper, is an outer space, sci-fi thriller filled with aliens, heroes, space ships, and large-scale epic battles, with characters that include hero Earthling Peter Quill and the completely CG characters of Groot (a talking tree) and Rocket (a gun-slinging, foul-mouthed, genetical- ly-altered raccoon). In order to bring Guardians of the Gal- axy to life, it took more than five VFX stu- dios in an impressive collaborative effort. Here, Post speaks with Nicolas Aithadi, VFX supervisor with MPC (Vancouver) about how his studio completed 857 shots, including the full CG character Groot, environments and spacecraft, and how his studio worked closely with Framestore on bringing Rocket Rac- coon to life; as well as with Pete Travers, VFX supervisor with Sony Imageworks (Culver City) on completing 88 shots, including the engine-room sequence, the Dark Aster ship and Howard the Duck in the final credits. MPC What were MPC's VFX contributions for Guardians? A lot of character work? "It was that — we had several things. First it was character work. We did design and blocked Groot – when I say design, we started with concepts from Marvel and evolved the character to the point of A BY LINDA ROMANELLO

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