Oliver Hohn is working for over 5 years in the compositing at RISE. He has participated on various movies such as PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, CLOUD ATLAS or IRON MAN 3.
What is your background?
I worked in metal construction, decided to study media engineering and while I was doing that, I discovered VFX, fell in love and from there it was only a matter of time… It’s a labor of love…
What was your feeling to be back in Captain America universe?
It was great to be back in the Marvel Universe, especially on an sequel of a movie you like. We did a couple of great shots for THE FIRST AVENGER and were thrilled to be asked to work on the sequel. I saw the movie with part of our team last week at the premiere in London and it was a very well made, smart action movie – so I’m really looking forward to get the chance to work on part three.
How did you work with Production VFX Supervisor Dan DeLeeuw?
Dan is a great supervisor with an amazing eye for detail and we had a lot of fun in the cineSync sessions with him. It is very comforting to know that every comment he makes is a step forward and that you’re working together to bring a shot to the next level. We can’t thank him enough for the trust he put into us to pull off some of the last minute shots for the movie.
What was your role on this project?
I was the compositing supervisor at RISE.
What are the sequences made by RISE?
We worked on a hole bunch of different shots and sequences. There were some council shots of Alexander Pierce, Black Widow and Nick Fury, monitor and greenscreen comps of the Shield facility and Washington, D.C. in the background, both assets that we received from ILM, plus the “Widow’s Bite” effect. Fury’s eye underneath his eye patch had to be designed and Pierce’s death needed some love, too. Some control room shots of Captain America’s speech as seen in the Superbowl trailer were comped at RISE. The transport of Cap, Black Widow and Falcon in the armored vehicle after they got arrested was all our work plus some cleanups, hidden cuts and retouches here and there. We also did a couple of full CG shots of the insanely detailed Insight espionage satellite – that were not easy to do after everyone still remembers GRAVITY as the new quality standard for outer space CGI. And of course, the CG destruction sequence with fire, smoke and rigid body simulations of Zola’s server room that we did in just three weeks.
Can you describe to us one of your typical day?
Oh, every day was a new challenge but it usually starts with a huge cup of coffee and a lot of emails from different time zones. After that we made a plan for the day, looking at newly found reference footage, similar shots from other facilities working on Cap 2, comparing the state of our work to were we should be in our schedule.
How did you approach the monitor and greenscreen compositing in the Shield facility?
We received matte-paintings of Washington, D.C. plus the model and renderings of the Shield facility from ILM and used our asset pipeline to control the backgrounds in one place, to load them from there into the specific comp. With that approach we avoided any continuity errors.
The monitor graphics were also a shared asset and provided by Cantina Creative through production. The integration was mostly straight forward compositing.
Can you tell us more about the bite effect on Black Widow?
The Widow Bite is one of her classic weapons, it is some kind of electro-static energy blast. We created some lightning wandering around her body, rendered some subsurface scattering of veins and flesh as lightning went through her skin illuminating it from within. We also added some sparks and smoke on impact with her biometric badge.
How did you create the Insight espionage satellite?
We researched some mood pictures for geometry and lighting. From there we tried to find as much reference pictures as possible. The satellite model was then created in Maya, details like crumpled aluminum foil added in Z-Brush and textured in Mari. The lenses of the satellites camera were created with proper refraction and reflection values and animated to create some lighting effects. Lighting, shading and rendering was all done in Houdini via Mantra.
Can you explain in details about your work on the Hydra server room destruction?
We took over Trixter’s environment asset and used that as a base for our destruction work. We simulated server racks flying though the air, hitting pillars, crumbling plaster, generated cracks in walls and ceiling, breaking glass, shattering ceiling lamps and a ton of dust blown towards camera by the initial shock wave that is followed by the fire illuminating the dust and smoke from the inside.
For shots taking place after the initial shock wave and fire we modeled the destruction in Maya and Z-Brush, adding more crumbling pieces and falling pillars as rigid bodies with secondary smoke, dust and debris sims on top. Texturing of burnt plastic and the blackened environment was all done in Mari. Lighting, shading, rendering as well as the fire, smoke, rigid body simulations were done in Houdini.
Right from the start we decided to use Deep Compositing for the destruction shots to be really flexible which later on became really handy. It was the second time we used Deep so we had already some experience with it. Pulling off these shots in only three weeks was really hard considering we started off with just two stunt people jumping into a hole in the ground in front of greenscreen.
How did you collaborates with Trixter about this sequence?
It was a really smooth collaboration. They provided us with a model of the server room foreground that they had already created after a Lidar scan. We used that model as a base for our destruction work. At the same time we sent our approved camera to Trixter and they rendered the whole background environment extension with all the passes they used in their comps for us. That way we were able to concentrate of destroying the foreground while maintaining the same look and feel that they had established.
Can you tell us more about your work with Captain America in the armored vehicle?
In that sequence Cap and his friends were captured and thrown into an armored vehicle. We created the exterior that you can see through the windows, reflections and light interaction inside the vehicle. We also had to replace the handcuff and legcuffs for Cap with CGI elements.
How did you design and create Fury’s eye?
The first step was to find reference material. We searched for pictures showing exactly that kind of wounds and scars. Which is, to be honest, not the most enjoyable thing to do. After that a matte-painter created the first concepts and in parallel we prepared the comp to be able to send the first layouts with the exciting revelation of Fury’s eye.
Can you tell us more about your work for the Alexander Pierce’s death?
After he gets shot, he’s falling through a wall of glass right behind him and everything is shattering into a thousand pieces. The problem was that we had to do a non-linear speed up on the shot. You can imagine the difficulties we had with optical flow and thousand of glass pieces that have different motion and intersect with each other. For the other shots we created a matte-painting for his chest with bullet holes and blood.?
What was the biggest challenge on this project and how did you achieve it?
I think the biggest challenge was the tight schedule for the CG destruction sequence of Zola’s server room underneath the abandoned military base. 3 weeks. ‘Nuff said.
Was there a shot or a sequence that prevented you from sleep?
No, not really. Of course there are some shots or sequences that are more challenging than others, e.g. the destruction of the Zola’s server room because of their complexity and the really tight schedule. But having such a great team on the entire show was a big relief.
What do you keep from this experience?
As always it stands and falls with the artists.
How long have you worked on this film?
About 3 months.
How many shots have you done?
What was the size of your team?
At peak times we’ve been around 30 artists.
What is your next project?
At the moment we are working on Guy Richtie’s THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E, the third Season of BORGIA and Tom Tykwer’s A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING starring Tom Hanks.
What are the four movies that gave you the passion for cinema?
OK, these movies are what everyone at RISE knows Oli loves:
BLOODSPORT, HARD TO KILL, THE DELTA FORCE, ICHI THE KILLER.
The true list:
JAWS, THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS and 2001.
A big thanks for your time.
// WANT TO KNOW MORE?
- RISE: Dedicated page about CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER on RISE website.
© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2014