Marvel’s latest superhero may be their smallest… but don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security. Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, ‘Ant-Man’ is the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and will be joining the Avengers in next year’s ‘Captain America: Civil War’. Prime Focus World was delighted to be called in once again by Marvel to deliver stereo conversion services for their latest blockbuster, having previously worked with them on ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’.
Directed by Peyton Reed, ‘Ant-Man’ sees scientist Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) forced out of his own company by former protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). Pym recruits the talents of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a master thief just released from prison, and turns him into Ant-Man, armed with a suit that allows him to shrink in size, possess superhuman strength and control an army of ants. The miniature hero must use his new skills to prevent Cross, and his evil alter-ego Yellowjacket, from perfecting the same technology and using it as a weapon for evil.
“One of the first things I discussed with Evan [Jacobs, Marvel Stereographic Supervisor) at the start of this project was how we were going to play the stereo when Ant-Man shrinks,” said Richard Baker, Senior Stereo Supervisor, Prime Focus World. “This really was the crux of our work on the show. When Ant-Man is human-scale the camera is normal scale and normal height… but what happens when he shrinks? Is it still a full-scale camera, or does it become an Ant-Man sized camera in a huge environment? Does it shrink with him?”
After testing a number of looks Evan and Richard settled on a stylistic approach that complemented the photography, as Richard explains: “Our preferred route was to create a tiny-scale camera in a huge environment, to really emphasize how alien the environment feels when everything is out of scale. In order to achieve this look we compressed the backgrounds and brought the characters forward in depth, out of the screen, so that everything seems magnified in the background. We combined this with pumping up Ant-Man’s internal volume a little more than we normally would, which served to miniaturise him further in this massive world.”
One of the main areas of progression for Prime Focus World on recent stereo conversion shows has been the development of its working relationship with VFX house Double Negative (PFW and Dneg merged last year). ‘Ant-Man’ was another opportunity for the companies to work together, offering the client a number of benefits and efficiencies.
“Most of the shots we were working on were Dneg VFX shots,” said Matt Bristowe, SVP Production, PFW. “Our shared pipeline is developing every day to deal with things such as harvesting of VFX elements to support the conversion, and getting access to elements earlier in the production process. In terms of improvements to our workflow, we’re now able to present stereo shots to our clients much earlier in the production process, and this is really helpful when timelines are so tight.”
One of the most complicated sequences that PFW delivered for Ant-Man was also one of the first they worked on. Christened the ‘first suit experience’, this breathless action sequence follows our hero as he dons the Ant-Man suit for the first time.
“This was a really interesting sequence, because the audience is experiencing how it feels to shrink down to a tiny size for the first time, as our hero experiences it,” said Richard Baker. “He shrinks in a bathtub, and has to outrun a cascade of water from the tap, survive a trip across a crowded dancefloor and outrun both a hoover and a giant mouse. We really set the style for the rest of the movie with this sequence, and delivered it early as it was also being used for a 4D experience at Disney theme-parks.”
PFW’s work on ‘Ant-Man’ was creatively headed out of its London facility, which also delivered geometry for characters and environments, and additional VFX particle work for key shots. Mumbai delivered the vast majority of the shots on Ant-Man, under the supervision of Chief Creative Director Merzin Tavaria and his team, including stereographer Jimmy Philip.
‘Ant-Man’ releases in the US, the UK and India on 17 July 2015.
RELEASE: July 17, 2015 (US, UK & India)
Director: Peyton Reed
Studios / Distributors: Marvel Studios / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Senior Stereo Supervisor: Richard W. Baker
Head of Production: Matthew Bristowe
Senior Producer: Valeria Andino
Stereo Supervision: Barry O'Brien, Jimmy Philip
Production Managers: Richard Edwards, Annsh Patel
Production Coordinators: Gufran Khan, Vikki Chapman, Simon Fraser, Chris Preston-Barnes, Rameez Mukaddam, Gauree Patil
Editorial: Gus Melton, Lewis 'Sonny' Menga, Janak Griffin-Rai, Stephanie Ross, David Glover
Stereo Leads: Dhiraj Sukheja, Marc Brzezicki, Manu Jain, Gourav Gupta, Sameer Samant, Varion Pereira, Rohan Tirkey
Stereo Compositors: Stephanie Cooper, Alan Tormey, Vishal Patel, Maria Asim Ali, Kat Kelly, Naresh Rawat, Peter Bartfay
Show TDs: Laszlo Rikker, Luke Gray, Piyush Jain
Pipeline: Rajat Roy, Eoin Greenham, Parminder Chadda, Robin Emerson