It took a village of 10 visual effects houses, including Weta FX and Framestore, and 3066 visual effects shots to help bring “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” to life over 15 months of post-production.
From studying baby raccoons for Rocket’s backstory (voiced by Bradley Cooper) to golden retrievers for talking dog Cosmo, VFX supervisors spent months putting together the footage – some with explosions and action. complex, including the already iconic two-minute film. scene perfectly synchronized with the rhythms of “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” by the Beastie Boys.
The teams break down the process behind some of their VFX magic and how they navigated some of the toughest scenes.
Regarding the creation of Cosmo, the photorealistic dog voiced by Maria Bakalova, Stéphane Naze, VFX supervisor for Framestore, said that the team gathered photos and images of a real dog and turned it into CG . But the process wasn’t that simple because Cosmo wasn’t just a dog – he was a talking dog.
In the film, Cosmo spends much of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” annoyed by Kraglin (Sean Gunn) for calling her a “bad dog,” but she earns her stripes in the final battle by using her telekinesis to help protect the people of Knowhere. Cosmo remains a Guardian at the end of the film.
Naze says Cosmo needed emotion. The key to that was looking at Bakalova: “It all came from her. She was saying the lines and it was super important to feel that. So we analyzed his performance blow by blow and what was the best way to translate these emotions.
Naze adds that it was always decided that Cosmo would be a golden retriever inspired by Slate, a golden retriever that was on set and belonged to one of the producers.
“Our character supervisor at Framestore also has the same dog and was always sending videos saying ‘Here’s the dog that’s sad. Here is the dog who is funny and I would take pictures of Slate or have our guy take pictures of the eye so we can get more details.
Guardians scramble scene
Framestore also worked on the “rush” sequence, which sees Mantis, the Guardians, and over 500 animals being rescued from the High Evolutionary’s (Chuckwudi Iwuji) ship.
Framestore London’s Alexis Wajsbrot says it was one of the most technically challenging sequences. Not only is it difficult to do crowd scenes in general, Wasjbrot also explains that there were animals “all bouncing around and interacting with each other, in the middle of the Guardians, and you add fur to the creatures. It becomes a heavy scene to polish and manage.
They started working on the plans as soon as they were commissioned to work on the film. It was also the last blow they delivered.
“The challenge was making sure the footage was believable,” Wasjbrot explains. They started out using shots with the Guardians running and holding gray beanbags “pretending to hold animals, but that didn’t work, so the animals and the Guardian’s hands ended up being CG.”
Additionally, Cosmo, who uses his psychic powers to link the two ships together, also needed hand animation effects.
The effects of the explosion and the separation of the two ships further compounded the challenge.
“It was a moment of huge fire, debris and spark effects, and all the animals. Although the sequence only has 17 shots,” Wassjbrot explains, “there was a lot of detail in the scramble. from fur to turtles to a monkey on top of a pig. They flow and bounce off each other and react to Guardians. It took a lot of hand animation to achieve this.
What gives the film its heart is Rocket’s harrowing backstory. The audience learns that he was part of the High Evolutionary’s mad scientist plan to create an advanced species. Rocket sees the villain kill his close friends.
Wajsbrot says there were six different stages of Rocket, with the baby version being inspired by real raccoons.
Using the shape blending technique, they could animate the features to show the different stages. Whether it’s changing him from being on all fours to “giving him shoulders to make him more human”. Or “by using less animation effects when he’s a baby and when he’s an adult, we pushed his emotions.”
Framestore production supervisor Stef Ceretti worked on the shots, many of which take place in cages. In total, the scenes took over a year and a half to put together.
Having worked with Gunn from the start, Ceretti says the director’s filming style has changed: “It’s very fluid. He’s very precise about how he shoots things now. He has this RED camera and he wanted everything that happened in the cages to be filmed the same way as everything that happens in the film. [In other words], he wanted his shooting style to be reflected in these all-CGI scenes. We talked about virtual production and how to achieve that and we decided to shoot the first two days of the film with the actors, including Bradley Cooper on a volume stage where we capture the movement of the camera so that James could shoot the scene with the actors exactly as he wanted to cover it.
Using three cameras, Ceretti explained that rather than capturing the actors in motion, the crew captured the cameras “so we could set the scene and know exactly what we needed in terms of coverage.” .
‘No sleep until the battle of Brooklyn
VFX Supervisor Guy Williams and Animation Supervisor Michael Cozens at Wētā FX helmed the effects for the film’s third act, which features the Beastie Boys hit “No Sleep Till Brooklyn.”
The song plays during the epic showdown between the Guardians and the High Evolutionary and the
The battle features a two-minute “oner” shot, without any cuts, taking place through the battle aboard the Arete. The moment is made up of 18 separate shots that have been digitally stitched together.
According to Williams, “If you’ve ever read a James Gunn script, he’s thinking about the music while he’s writing. He is a very lyrical director.
It took a collaboration of VFX, stunt coordinators, and Gunn’s management to figure out the choreography for the scene.
“When Zoe Saldaña is pinned against the wall, it goes to the stuntman and then back to Zoe. There’s a lot of back and forth and we have to make that transfer invisible,” he explains. when we’re going to transition to a digital character so that we can really blend the two seamlessly and put them back together.”
The biggest challenge was putting the action to music and keeping the tempo going. Cozens explains that keeping things in sync was a delicate balance: “Our initial pass is an all-character blocking pass and action timings for explosions and gunfire in time to the song.”
Additionally, there were “camera cut points with Chris Pratt’s Quill and Nebula and we had to fill those moments with the digital work. We had to maintain that throughout the post-production of this single shot.