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November 2016

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VISUAL EFFECTS 14 POST NOVEMBER 2016 s one of the most powerful sorcer- ers in the world, Marvel's Doctor Strange and his cosmic, reality-bending abilities was one of the greatest chal- lenges presented to production and post teams thus far in figuring out how to bring the character to the big screen for Marvel/Disney Studios. Behind direc- tor Scott Derrickson (Deliver Us From Evil, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) was a talented team that included star Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game, Star Trek Into Darkness), DP Ben Davis (Guardians of the Galaxy), editors Wyatt Smith (Thor: The Dark World) and Sabrina Plisco (The Smurfs, TV's Devious Maids) and Oscar-nominated VFX supervisor and Marvel alumnus Stephane Ceretti (Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The First Avenger and X-Men: First Class). As the story of the good doctor un- folds, audiences learn about the talented neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange and how, after a tragic car accident destroys his hands, he must learn the secrets of a hidden world of mysticism and alternate dimensions while relying on his skills to juggle the real world and beyond. The film, which was shot in a number of locations, including New York; Kathmandu, Nepal; Hong Kong; and in Pinewood Studios and Longcross Studios in the UK, on Arri Alexa 65 cameras, was largely made possible through the combined mastery of such VFX wizards as ILM, Luma, Method and Framestore (along with Rise, Lola, Crafty Apes, 3D conversion by StereoD and previs from The Third Floor) all under the leadership of Ceretti. "This film is really quite something," says Ceretti. "It's different — it's a de- parture from what's been done before. I can't wait to see the reaction. We've been pushing the envelope and I hope we succeeded." While still putting the finishing touches on the film at the Disney lot in Burbank, CA, the VFX super discussed exclusively with Post the colossal undertaking of cre- ating more than 1,450 visual effects shots that spanned the course of two years. What types of visual effects were required for this film? "Pretty much everything because we have environments for Kathmandu [Nepal], Hong Kong, New York, which are all pretty intense in terms of environments and effects because we're doing lots of manipulation of space. Then there's the magic, where we're using a ton of effects, lots of CG digi-doubles and some char- acter animation, as well as some complex animated, effects-heavy environments be- cause we're creating dimensions. It's very varied because we're traveling so much, from place to place around the world and through dimensions. It's a very heavy, visual R&D-driven show." What type of direction for the VFX did you get from director Scott Derrickson? "We started in September 2014, so two years ago Scott had already gathered a lot of visuals he liked from the Internet and photo books. He really approached it from a visual point of view. The main thing he wanted to do in terms of magic, was to make sure we were using magic in a physical sense. In his mind, he wanted the magic to look as real as possi- ble. But how do you make magic look real when it's so crazy? "For him, it was like, 'I want things to feel like they're physical, so if I'm using magic on an object for example, I want the object to look real but behave in a different way — in a very specific way. It's always about getting people to relate to something they know exits but that behaves in a different way." What were some of the key VFX sequences? "We shot in Kathmandu, but all the inte- riors of the temples and rooftops of the temples were shot in London on a stage, so we have a lot of environment work there by Method in Vancouver. Then we have about a two-minute sequence that happens at the end of the first act called 'The Magical Mystery Tour' where the Ancient One teaches a lesson to Doctor Strange and pushes him out of his body and into space and other dimensions just to show him what the world is really like. So, that's a big conceptual sequence — it's a big sequence that Method in LA had been working on and that's a huge con- ceptual effort from the art department, visual effects and previs. Even editorial worked on it, very early in the project, before we started shooting. That's a se- quence that's very important for Scott, as it sets up the tone for the film. "Then we move to New York, where we have a sequence inside the Sanctum Sanctorum [fictional location of Doctor Strange's refuge]. Framestore worked on that — there's a big fight within the Sanctum and the deformation of space, some gravitational changes within the building and then we go into the streets of New York, and into a hospital where Strange and Zealot are fighting in the Astral Plane. They go out of their bodies and fight in another plane, flying across the hospital room and then back into the Sanctum. There's a big chase in New York that ILM completed where all these buildings are kind of tilting and all of New York is changing its shape and becoming a huge gigantic puzzle. "There's another big scene that takes place in Hong Kong, which we shot in London, where we did a lot of set exten- sions. The trick there is, that everything's going backwards, so the city's not destroying itself, it's actually rebuild- ing itself, but our characters are kind of fighting within that world, moving forward. It's a very complex, time-ma- THE DOCTOR IS IN MARVEL'S LATEST HERO IS OUT OF THIS WORLD IN DOCTOR STRANGE A Strange features 1,450-plus VFX BY LINDA ROMANELLO

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