Ant-Man VFX Breakdown: It Takes Big Effects To Make A Small Hero

One of the most surprising movies to come out of the summer of 2015 was Marvel's Ant-Man. It wasn't so much a surprise that the superhero movie turned out to be so good, it was just surprising that it had so much fun and personality when the movie hit theaters. A big reason why fans and critics received Ant-Man so well was its mix of humor and action, which were all on display during the film's climax.

Let's set it up: Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll) shrink down to find themselves fighting inside of a briefcase that is falling from a helicopter. When the briefcase falls to the Earth, it splashes down in a family's backyard swimming pool, as Yellowjacket grows back to human-size to terrorize the family. Ant-Man also grows back and the two continue their fight in the family's backyard. While audiences were dazzled with the high-level of action happening on the big screen, there were teams of behind-the-scenes visual effects artists spending months painstakingly putting the scene together.

Visual effects house Cinesite Studios recently shared a video on how they did it. The video above features the fight scene in full, before it goes back and shows how visual effects artists took the original footage and layered a number of elements on top of it until they came up with what we actually see in the final version of the movie.

As the VFX studios' official website puts it:

"One of the most challenging shots involved the creation of a fully CG Yellow Jacket emerging from the water. Cinesite began with assets supplied by the production, developing them to completion of final shots. The surface of the suit has a honey comb texture, which needed to be matched with shots by other vendors in the film. The bespoke shader was built in three stages. Masks were used to control the specular roughness along with an inverted facing ratio to get less reflection on the glancing angle on a random set of honey comb faces. When the three layers were combined a multi-faceted breakup effect was achieved."

Ant-Man - Paul Rudd

It seems that the most difficult elements to create were Yellowjacket's suit as the supervillain exits the swimming pool. Cinesite had to layer the textures of the suit as well as water dripping from it. The VFX studio actually had to develop special software to achieve the special effect. Cinesite continues:

"Rivulets of water flow from Yellow Jacket’s suit, dripping from the surface as he exits the pool. A custom microsolver was developed in Houdini SideFX, to ensure that water clung realistically to the suit surface. The water elements were rendered in Mantra before being passed to the compositors."

The scene is quite impressive and all of Cinesite's hard work really does show on the big screen. It works because director Peyton Reed seamlessly blended action with comedy, along with Cinesite's visual effects work that really sells the effectiveness of the fight scene. Overall, it made Ant-Man a unique entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Captain America: Civil War will release on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man – July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.

Source: Cinesite [via CB]

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