How The Avengers Made A Motion Capture Hulk And Snagged An Oscar Nomination

By Eric Eisenberg 2013-02-12 13:18:34discussion comments
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It honestly amazes me that we can do so much with CGI at this point – in fact we can do practically anything. But there really is an extra quality that comes with having the human underneath. Is that something that’s definable?

Jeff White: It really comes down to a performance thing. There’s so much subtlety, even sub-frame subtlety that you don’t realize.

Victoria Alonso: But what did you say too? I think it has everything to do, you’re right, with performance, but you have to be critical of the amount of time that you allow for that technology. Because that technology is there. But people, because they think the technology is there, they go, “Oh it gets done! Everything is so fast now! Everything is digital! Everything is now!” When it comes down to a best like The Hulk – and I mean that in the sense of what a mountain it is to climb, the journey of defining it – if you don’t give it the right time you will fail. And that’s the one thing that we were religious about.

JW: Absolutely.

VA: We said, “This is the time that you must have these plates, this is the time…” and Joss was incredibly collaborative in trying to get there. We knew that if we didn’t give ILM the amount of time that they needed then their character wasn’t going to be there.

JW: It’s very true. [To Victoria] It takes some leap of faith on your part to be patient enough to say, “This will get there.” Because there are many, many rounds of, “Ummm…not quite there yet.” Even once we had one version that we were like, “Oh, that works pretty good in this shot,” – we put him in a new shot…

VA: And it’s night and day.

JW: I always talk about his green and how we had so much terminology. Pumpkin Hulk. Minty Hulk.

VA: Puke-y Hulk [Laughs]

JW: There was a right green, no matter where he was, that we just had to find.

VA: And we landed there, but you need the time to get through it.

Before I go, I do want to ask about the future of Marvel.

VA: The future is bright! [laughs]

Obviously all of the films in Phase Two are going to have a significant visual effects element, but the one I am beyond curious about Guardians of the Galaxy. I know production is going to start this summer…

VA: Production has already started! Completely. It started months ago and we have an entire team in London already – we start shooting in June. Our director [James Gunn] travels next week and it’s going, baby! It’s a fast train to a beautiful place.

What makes me fascinated by the project is that you have five members of this team, and one of them is Rocket Raccoon, a talking raccoon, and another one is Groot, who is quite literally a walking tree. You’re obviously not putting a person in a costume for those parts. Are those going to be fully CG characters? Are there plans to use motion capture again?

VA: We’re going to do a combination. You can’t do any motion capture with a raccoon – they won’t let you put the suit on [laughs]. But we will do rotomation, probably, for some of the behavior. Rocket will have his own personality, of course, and clearly we can’t do mocap on a tree, per say, but we definitely will have performers to emulate what James Gunn will lead to be the behavior and the performance. He’s very clear on where he wants to take the characters.
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