IRON MAN 2: Ged Wright – VFX Supervisor – Double Negative

After working at Mill Film for HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, Ged Wright joined Double Negative in 2002 and works on HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE, HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHENIX or 10,000 BC. He has just finished overseeing IRON MAN 2.

What is your background?
I worked in Australia doing commercial work for a number of years before relocating to the U.K. In 2001. I joinedMill Film for HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS and then moved to Double Negative in 2002 and have been here ever since.

How was your collaboration with director Jon Favreau and production visual effects supervisor Janek Sirrs?
We worked closely with Janek throughout the project making sure we gathered enough reference information and data whilst in Monaco and Downey in L.A.
The process was more involved and had much more involvement from Jon Favreau as we moved into the animation and postviz stage of the project and got into the beats and details of how to tell the Monaco fight sequence.

What are the sequences made at Double Negative?
We were responsible for the Historic Grand Prix race in Monaco which culminates with an on track battle between Whilplash and Iron Man in his suitcase suit.

Can you tell us about the shooting of the Monaco’s sequence? What was real elements and those in CG?
2nd unit photography took place in Monaco, without the actors or any of the art department cars. Initially Janek was looking to shoot at least some real race cars in Monaco however the logistics of shooting on location proved to much to overcome.
Production was able to obtain permission to shut off areas of the racetrack, which in Monaco means functioning city streets, on the lead up to the race in the early hours of the morning.
A hotted up Porsche with Vista cameras mounted at the front and rear was driven as quickly as possible through these areas and the plates served as the basis for the in car driving shots.
In addition to the work 2nd unit was doing we shot 180 panoramas from either side of the track, about every 15 feet along the track which served for reflection and plate reconstruction information.
All of the race cars are CG up until they are cut in half which was handled practically in L.A. with CG enhancements.

How did you recreate Monaco in CG?
Most of Monaco was a combination of matte painting and reprojections using the photography we had taken, we ended up with around 7 TB of photographic data.
The fight area which was built as a set in L.A. was also built digitally by us for when we could not use the photography or needed to extend it.

Can you explain us more about racing cars cut in half?
The cars were rigged by SFX to cut in certain ways and tumble down the track. We added whip contact effects with Monaco and the crowd behind them.

How did your recreate the lighting of the shooting?
Our lighting pipeline is HDR based, we shoot as much HDR information as possible onset.
This was complicated for the fight sequence as the lighting in Downey was unfortunately overcast, coming from the wrong direction and there was a very large green screen where the harbour should be. So we rebuilt the lighting environment from stills and painted out the sun and any additional lights to allow more flexibility once lighting the shots.

Have you developed specific tools (for lightning or fire) for this sequence?
We used a number of inhouse tools and relied heavily on Houdini for our FX work.

How did you collaborate with Legacy Effects for Iron Man armor and Ivan Vanko?
The whip FX were designed and implemented at dneg. The suit Ivan wears was practical and handled by Legacy.

About the mobile armor Iron Man. How have you designed and build it? Have you received elements from ILM?
The MKV armour was separate from the work ILM did and there was no overlap of the work on this project.
Legacy built a 1/3 size model which we used as a starting place which was then refined and added to through out the project, we were modelling the suit and suitcase until quite late in the project, with the MK5 being made up of over 3000 individual pieces.

Can you explain how you animate the deployment of the suitcase into the mobile armor and its choreography?
We began with a lot of concept art which resembled comic book frames, this was very useful but could only take us so far.
In 3D the first step was to take the fully formed armour and try and fit it into the suitcase, which it does….just.
Jon wanted the armour to move in a consistent and mechanically believable manner which was a challenge considering what we need the individual pieces to do.
In the end focusing on what each shot of the suit up sequence needed to most clearly communicate was the key to solving this problem.

What information Jon Favreau gave you for Iron Man’s animation?
Jon has a very clear idea of how Iron Man should move and had established a language in the first film so there was a lot of catching up for us to do. One of the key challenges for us was the interaction with Whiplash as they are connected for half the sequence and there is only so much we could do to alter the performance, transition of weight etc.

How did you achieved to render so realistic metal look for the armour?
The shaders were built with the latest version of dneg’s inhouse shader set-up which allows extensive use of co-shaders. This allowed the lookdev artists to build and experiment with shaders in a more intuitive way.

What was the biggest challenge on this film?
The suitup sequence gave us the most sleepless nights.

What was the most difficult shot to do? And how did you achieve it?
There is no stand out shot in this case, most of the shots in the sequence had a large number of disciplines working on them so in a sense one of the more difficult challenges is keeping a track of such complex work.

How many shots have you done and what was the size of your team?
We finalled 250 shots with around 200 crew touching the shots over the course of the project.

What did you keep from this experience?
I learnt a great deal and are pleased with the result and how hard everyone worked, i’m not sure you are ever completely happy with the final result which helps when embarking on the next show.

What is your next project?
I’m currently inbetween shows.

What are the four films that gave you the passion for cinema?
IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, TERMINATOR 2, WHITNAIL AND I and HOWARD THE DUCK…

A big thanks for your time.

// WANT TO KNOW MORE?
Double Negative: Dedicated page IRON MAN 2 on Dneg’s website.

© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2010

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Vincent Frei

Founder & Editor-in-Chief // VES Member // Former comp artist

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  1. karl brisson 9 January, 2011 at 00:50

    jaimerai savoir ci il a des plans de fabriquation pour le costume d’iron man ci oui jaimerai en navoir une copie merci a vous .jai tellement triper sur le filme que je veux un iron man dans mon salon

  2. cadeau original 24 April, 2011 at 08:58

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