Vincent Cirelli worked on many Marvel productions. In 2014, he talked to us about the Luma Pictures work on THOR: THE DARK WORLD. Then he worked on GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON and ANT-MAN. He also oversaw the effects of IN THE HEART OF THE SEA and DEADPOOL.

What was your feeling to work again with the Russo Brothers and VFX Supervisor Dan Deleeuw?
The Russos Brothers are fantastic. We had the opportunity to work with them on A MINI MARVEL, the Coke Super Bowl spot that featured The Hulk and Ant-Man. Dan is a lot of fun, he’s a really nice guy to work with and is deeply embedded in the lore of the Marvel Universe, so he often knows the direction for visual development that’s going to work not only for the film, but also in the world of Marvel as a whole.

This new Captain America have a bigger scale. Does that change their approach about the VFX?
The great thing about Marvel is that you often work with the same teams. They don’t rebuild teams from scratch. Instead they rotate very competent people from show to show. This is fantastic for us, because the process is always very much the same and we know what to expect. They have a refined pipeline, which scales with every show and sequence. So, the approach stays exactly the same.

What were the sequences made by Luma Pictures?
Taskforce headquarters fight scene A and B. Luma was responsible for:
– Winter Soldier’s bionic arm
– Winter soldier metal restraints
– Tony Stark Ironman glove and repulsor FX
– CG elevator shaft
– Taskforce headquarters set destruction and interaction
– Taskforce headquarters set extension

Hydra facility flashback:
– Winter soldier’s bionic arm

Stasis chamber flashback:
– Winter soldier’s bionic arm
– Brain wash chair
– Car crash effects

Abandoned factory hideout:
– Winter soldier’s bionic arm
– CG Helicopter

Can you explain in details about the creation of the bionic arm of Winter Soldier?
The technique we used was primarily the same as the previous CAPTAIN AMERICA installment, but the challenges were different. In the previous film most of the shots were outdoors. In CIVIL WAR, most of the shots take place indoors and in close proximity to other actors, this required more matchmoving and per shot lighting setups as they moved around in the building.

Tony Stark uses a glove during a fight. How did you create it?
Luma had the opportunity to design the glove in-house. Our concept team went about creating streamlined geometric shapes on a CG hand. Since the design was very much based on movement, we took the geometric shapes and what we called ‘guide conduits’ which were the network of vine looking structures into rigging and animation and immediately started playing with how they would spindle from the watch and graft onto the skin. Once the conduits were deployed, they would release nano technology which would solidify in shape to create flexible wafers which deform to Stark’s hand, hence creating the overall shape and volume of the glove.

How did you create the FX generated when Tony Stark is firing with his glove?
The effect was completed in Houdini, using cloth simulation to create the sonic wave patterns seen in the final effect.

How did you handle the metallic look of Tony Stark’s glove and Winter Soldier’s arm?
Tony Stark glove:
It was a technical challenge integrating Tony Stark’s CG glove into the live action scenes. First, we created a digital version of Downy’s hand to use as a template for how the new device would seamless grow over and around this palm and fingers. We had to make sure the glove fit Robert Downy Jr’s hand perfectly, and needed to make sure it had proper reflection & cast proper shadows throughout the sequence. In the design process we wanted to make sure it looked like it belonged to Tony Stark but with a more minimalistic design than seen in previous films, and instead of being a glove made from rigid metal shapes, it would incorporate nano technology that allowed the glove to build in realtime around Stark’s hand.

Winter Soldier restraints:
For the Winter Soldier restraints, we started off with 2D concepts before going into a full CG model. The restraints, needed to cover the practical stand-ins that we in the photography, but not look too bulky. In order to help integrate the Winter Soldier into the restraining chair, we ended up creating a digital torso that received proper shadows and wrinkled appropriately under the CG constraints when Winter Soldier moved.

During the fight, many destructions are happening. Can you tell us more about this aspect?
We completed a few debris simulations for when the Winter Soldier breaks a wall with his fist. This was completed in Houdini and rendered in Arnold.

How did you enhance the Taskforce HQ environment?
Many red brick walls on set were covered up with off-white cloth. Luma was tasked with changing that into cement. Instead of doing a full replacement, Dan had laid a white sheet behind the actors. This was brilliant because it allowed us to multiply a cement texture onto the sheet, ultimately looking like a cement wall, and we never had to deal with green screen spill.

In a flashback, we can see a car crash. Can you explain in detail about your work on it?
The sequence of the Winter Soldier slicing the moving car’s tire causing it to crash required a combination of an FX simulation and traditional animation. The deflating tire was simulated and then we animated it flapping around the rim.

Was there a shot or sequence that prevent you from sleep?
The design of Tony Stark’s new glove initially was concerning, as it’s unlike any gauntlet he’s worn before. Luckily, it went through production very well, and was a lot of fun to develop.

How long have you worked on this film?
We started working on this project July 2015.

How many shots have you done?
We completed just under 200 shots in the show.

What was the size of your team?
Between our LA and Melbourne studios, there were just under 200 people.

What is your next project?

A big thanks for your time.


Luma Pictures: Official website of Luma Pictures.

© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2016


  1. Great article, Vincent. Maybe use a little « English spell check » before publication next time ?


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