Definition March 2023 - Web


Power of attorney

The visual effects supervisor behind She-Hulk: Attorney at Law explains how deepfake and VFX made this Marvel character unique

WORDS. Robert Shepherd IMAGES. Marvel Studios

W hen the very first feature film based on a Marvel comic was released in 1986, there were very high hopes. Howard the Duck (known in Europe as Howard: A New Breed of Hero ) had George Lucas, Lea Thompson ( Back to the Future ), Tim Robbins ( The Shawshank Redemption) and a hefty budget to its name. Upon release, the film was panned by critics and haemorrhaged money at the box office. In 2014, the Los Angeles Times listed the film as one of the costliest box- office flops ever made. However, despite that false start, Marvel Comics, now part of the Walt Disney Company stable, has had more than ten billion-dollar-grossing films to its name. Late last year, the eighth Marvel Studios television series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was released on Disney+. It’s about Jennifer Walters, a lawyer who specialises in cases involving superhumans. She also happens to be the green superhero, She-Hulk. Digital Domain, a VFX and digital production company based in Los Angeles, had already worked on Marvel productions such as Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame , so it made sense for Marvel Studios to call on its services again. “It was kind of a natural fit and we wanted to push our VFX technology to the next level, to create a living, breathing,

emoting computer-generated character for an episodic,” explains Michael Melchiorre, VFX supervisor at Digital Domain. “It was kind of a natural fit that I would slide over there and help that team push it across the finish line. On-set, we’re there to make sure the performance is captured properly. We’re making sure we get everything we need. The performance, that’s the director’s territory, and we don’t want to step on any feet. But we also want to make sure that while we’re there, we get what we need to bring the character to life once principal photography is over.” The series benefits from virtual production, too. “Towards the end of the series, She-Hulk goes into an underground secret room hidden in the Marvel offices,” Melchiorre says. “That’s where K.E.V.I.N., the brain who controls Marvel, resides. For that, we did a lot of pre-vis and post-vis using Unreal Engine to help the filmmakers visualise what that environment would ultimately become. It’s helpful every step along the way. You get a better idea of what the environment’s going to look like and how the character’s going to move within it. This gives the director on-set freedom to shoot how they want to shoot and not be hampered by any type of VFX methodology down the line.” As far as Digital Domain’s sequences are concerned, it was responsible for

“We wanted to push our VFX technology to the next level, to create a living, breathing, emoting computer- generated character”


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