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July 09
2017

ISSUE

Summer 2017

A VISIONEER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY

By ED OCHS

In the latest evolution of the expanding Marvel universe, The Third Floor created all of the previs, postvis and techvis for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The project marks the eleventh Marvel production The Third Floor has contributed to since 2010.

Previs, postvis and techvis for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, helped to visualize the action and plan technical filming.

Left and right: Previs shots from Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (Image copyright © 2017 Marvel and courtesy of The Third Floor, Inc.)

The Third Floor’s Supervisor, James Baker, who led the company’s earlier work on Guardians of the Galaxy, headed the visualization team, collaborating with director James Gunn, Visual Effects Supervisor Christopher Townsend, Director of Photography Henry Braham, BSC, Editors Craig Wood and Fred Raskin, and Supervising Art Director Ramsey Avery.

Previs was used to map the action and plan filming across the movie for sequences like the opening credits, Space Chase and Final Battle, and especially for the shots with completely digital characters.

TOP and BOTTOM: The Third Floor’s work for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 spanned scenes across the movie, including the opening credits, Eclector Escape, Space Chase and Final Battle. (Image copyright © 2017 Marvel and courtesy of The Third Floor, Inc.)

“James (Gunn) embraces the previs and postvis process and uses it to inform the production shoot and the final vendor work,” Baker states. “He has a very clear idea of what he wants with each shot; in fact he thumbnails the entire movie. Sometimes these go to storyboard artists and then to us, but we also worked straight from his thumbnails and a pitch. It’s great to work with a director who has such a clear vision.”

Communications were constant, constructive and rapid-fire.

“There was a lot of exchange between James, Chris Townsend and myself in visualizing the sequences; it was very interactive,” Baker recounts. “A lot of times in post during the editing process, James would call us over for shots he would want to add for a re-shoot or a pure visual effects shot. We would turn out something quickly so they could see if it would work in the cut.”

Having two fully CG characters, Rocket and Baby Groot, in the movie gave previs artists the opportunity to creatively contribute to the development of moments and details that carried through into the final film. Artists referenced character performances done by Sean Gunn on set for Rocket, with postvis artists closely following this acting in temping the CG character into live plates.

TOP and BOTTOM: Visualization work by The Third Floor for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 provided the opportunity to help develop character moments and details for Groot and Rocket, which would later be realized as final fully CG effects. (Image copyright © 2017 Marvel and courtesy of The Third Floor, Inc.)

“Something different about this project was having two fully CG main characters, Rocket and Baby Groot,” Baker notes. “It was a lot of fun for our previs artists to be able to help shape and develop performances that are part of the film.”

One of the most challenging shots to visualize was the film’s opener. The Third Floor’s Steve Lo led efforts to previs the long, continuous credits shot and adjust to creative changes as the sequence evolved over multiple months.

“Probably the most challenging shot of the film for us was the Baby Groot opening credit sequence,” Baker explains. “One of our artists, Steve Lo, was responsible for visualizing most of that shot and did an incredible job. With these kinds of shots – long takes – any changes have a domino effect and they end up being quite involved and taking quite a while. We worked on and off on this one shot for quite a number of months, but I think the end results are worth it; it’s so much fun.”

The Space Chase presented unique challenges for depicting ships and motion. The Third Floor’s team focused on ways to sequence the shots and introduce camera framings that would produce the right sense of speed and scale.

“A lot of times, action sequences have the action taking place near a large ship that gives you some scale and lets you show the speed of the action by the proximity to the bigger object,” Baker says. “That wasn’t the case for this scene, so we used a combination of editing and camera work to get that sense of speed in the shots.”

TOP and BOTTOM: As with its work for the first Guardians movie, The Third Floor helped visualize ideas and layouts for a range of dramatic action in space. (Image copyright © 2017 Marvel and courtesy of The Third Floor, Inc.)

Techvis provided away to help the filmmakers and depart- ments figure out shooting approaches for flying character rigs and sweeping orbit shots. The film also features some tricky shots executed with stunt rigs. For example, Baker points to when Quill flies around the Abelisk, with the camera needing to operate within a closely defined space. Baker says his previs team also created techvis schematics and Quicktimes to help develop how the sweeping camera moves in the Final Battle could successfully be implemented. In certain cases, previs camera data was exported to the Spydercam rigging crew to help set up the physical shot.

Visualization also extended to look-development for environments like the Quantum asteroid field, where The Third Floor’s previs artists completed numerous concept iterations in tandem with the filmmakers.



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