A Look Behind the Visual Effects Of Captain America: The First Avenger!

With a few before and after VFX images, and a word or two from the team, make the jump and check out behind the visual effects of Marvel's Captain America: The First Avenger!

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By DCMarvelFreshman - 7/27/2011


Courtesy of Trevor Hogg of CGSociety, images and interviews regarding the visual effects of Marvel and Joe Johnston's praised-Captain America: The First Avenger have hit the net. While the following is just excerpts, follow the link for more images and interviews touching on key sequences at CGSociety. However, check out cherry-picked things below.

“There was an awful a lot of work involved to make our main visual effect, ‘Skinny Steve’, the pre-rebirth Steve Rogers, before he is transformed into Captain America,” says Visual Effects Supervisor Christopher Townsend “We talked about using a CG head similar to what they had done with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button [2008].”

“It wouldn’t have served the purpose of the film and the purpose of the film is to get our actor, Chris Evans in this case, up on screen. We all wanted his performance to be there as much as possible. After much R&D we ended up with a 2D solution where we are literally mesh warping Chris Evans’ body and slimming him down, reducing his shoulders and arms, making his face more gaunt, thinning out his nose, making his chin more pointy, not quite an all American square jaw, and also making him shorter by about five inches.”

“[Red Skull] looked beautiful because you weren’t quite sure whether it was bone, skin, muscle, or blood,” enthuses Christopher Townsend. “We realized at the beginning of its production design that we would have to manipulate his face considerably because physically when you put a quarter inch mask over a human you can never get it smaller than a human and that’s what you want. We wanted to make it look like tight skin as it’s wrapped around a very boney structure. Hugo isn’t a really gaunt guy but we had to make him that. We had to thin out his cheeks, hollow out his eyes a little more, remove his eyelashes, and thin out his lower lip to make him more like the Red Skull character. Not too mention, remove his nose too.”

“Red Skull was much easier for us than the Skinny Steve sequences. Framestore had already gone thru the development process, and an approved look had been developed. It took us about a week to match the lighting and textures from Framestore; once that was complete, we used pfTrack to 3D track Red Skull's face, and Flame for the composites.”
Williams adds, “The major issue we had with Red Skull was matching the constantly changing lighting of the scene. Our 3D department had to set keyframes for every muzzle flash, electrical spark, and head turn in the shots. Our sequence included a lot of hand to hand combat, and it really slowed down the 3D lighting crew.”

“The interior shots were a gimbal set of a plane interior against the green screen with the actors,” reveals Visual Effects Supervisor Sean Faden. “Then we comped in the background. We had real plates of the Swiss Alps that were shot in the daytime and we did a day for night on them. We layered in CG clouds in pretty much every shot to add additional depth and to get a sense of speed. We also had to create a lot of reflections in the windows of the plane.” A camera was mounted on a techno crane to capture the necessary images. “One of the big challenges was getting the motion of the background right relative to the plane,” reveals Faden. “We would pre-match exactly what the gimbal was doing and exactly what the camera was doing but it would feel like the plane was moving too much. So we had to go through and reanimate the digital version of our plane, [and make it] a little more subdued but with the bounces still happening at the same time.”


Again, for more images and interviews, head over to CGSociety!



Captain America: The First Avenger focuses on the early days of the Marvel Universe when Steve Rogers volunteers to participate in an experimental program that turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America. As Captain America, Rogers joins forces with Bucky Barnes and Peggy Carter to wage war on the evil HYDRA organization, led by the villainous Red Skull. Starring Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell, Samuel L. Jackson, Stanley Tucci and Hugo Weaving, the film releases July 22, 2011.

Source: CGSociety
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16 Comments
SmokinIndo - 7/27/2011, 5:28 PM
Chris Evans looks almost like a giant pre-cgi.
TorturedXGenius - 7/27/2011, 5:30 PM
F UCKING. AWESOME. i love scene the behind the scenes of CG movies/scenes
primeobjective - 7/27/2011, 5:32 PM
Wow the possibilities are truly endless1
NeoBaggins - 7/27/2011, 5:54 PM
At no point did I feel an overbearing presense of CGI. Illuminated objects such as the cube, plasma blast and models such as the Skull's plane, are a given for CGI. But I was never jarred out of the experience by wiggly CGI human forms or overly cartoonish background structures. Things looked practical and solid.

Spielberg and Lucas should be proud of the director for this film. I didn't think much of it but it was pretty good- just like the old days of the 80's when movies had that real adventure quality.

Bravo.
BigK1337 - 7/27/2011, 6:03 PM
There is no denieing it people, the CGI in the movie are the best. Makes the movie as realistic as the movies back then.

Pretty good movie, I have to say, pretty good movie.

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superotherside - 7/27/2011, 6:21 PM
they did a really good job! who cares about transformers now? lol this is the real special effects! when a special effect is done well it shouldn't look like a special effect...
InFamouslyCool - 7/27/2011, 7:50 PM
pretty cool. evans looked great. red skull.. not so much. kind of think scott paulin's red skull look better. lol
vexfly - 7/27/2011, 8:31 PM
Yeh know I really enjoyed the film but some of the CG work didn't settle well with me. I thought a lot of aspects that we CG enhanced weren't blended very well. Red Skull for example but even more so, the scene where Cap chases down the cab.

The skinny Steve looked awesome though. I was expecting hiccups with it but didn't catch any :)
soforizo - 7/27/2011, 8:46 PM
Skinny Rogers.... definitely looked alot better in the film than the trailers.
GUNSMITH - 7/27/2011, 8:56 PM
LOVED THE MOVIE...










NeoBaggins - 7/27/2011, 9:04 PM
Red Skull make-up doesn't fully work, but I was more concerned that Hugo didn't get to peak with the character. But there's like one shot in particular that looks pretty bad; when he pours a drink and makes a toast before boarding his plane. Other than that, things flowed pretty well visually.
SupermanReturns2006 - 7/27/2011, 10:40 PM
Just went to see this movie on my first time yesterday in theatres and it was tremondous to watch. Chris Evans did a good job playing "The Patriotic Hero" fighting war back in the 1940's
moneybanks - 7/28/2011, 1:56 AM
Im sorry but that grenade clip makes feel awesome everytime i see it!! Just shows how dope Cap/Steve is!!

I know its just a film, but if I and the rest of the people in this world had the balls and the nounce to do something like that...this world would be a much better place to live in. Great piece of writing and an awesome show of herosim!!

CAPTAIN AMERICA FTW!!
ROMACK - 7/28/2011, 6:42 AM
Man I cannot wait to get the Extended, Super, Ultra, Platinum, Limited Time Only, Delux, 3D, 2D, BD, DVD Supreme Directors Cut of CATFA! I would even buy "The Richard Donner Cut" when it comes out 30 years from now.
njferns - 7/28/2011, 7:22 AM
GREAT find! Thanks!
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Fogs - 7/28/2011, 9:07 AM
Wow, those are some impressive "de-beef process" images.

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