… for Visual Effects
Tip #1663: VFX in “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.”
“The Falcon…” made extensive use of digital doubles.
This article, written by Trevor Hogg, first appeared in VFXVoice.com. This is a summary.
Initially meant to be the first small-screen venture for Marvel Studios on Disney+, the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent production lockdown caused The Falcon and the Winter Soldier to follow after WandaVision.
In this interview with showrunner Malcolm Spellman, director Kari Skogland and VFX Supervisor Eric Leven, VFXVoice explores how the effects for this multimillion dollar series were created.
Eric Leven: “It wasn’t like we had to figure out a new look for an energy beam or something like that. It was to make this photographically real. … Just trying to figure out if you were shooting something for real, how would you photograph it? Where would the camera be? How fast would the camera be moving? We orchestrated two aerial units. We had a helicopter plate shoot in New York to capture plates for Episode 106 and then we had the skydiving unit for Episode 101. Stunt guys actually had a day when they went out on real trucks, drove down and pretended to fight just to see what that would look like.”
Key collaborators were Special Effects Supervisor Daniel Sudick and Supervising Stunt Coordinator Hank Amos. “The special effects department has done every Marvel movie, so they know how to do everything,” states Leven. “I remember talking to Hank Amos, the stunt coordinator, about a scene in the Hot Potato where it is scripted that there is a guy strapped to a skydiver and they’re going to jump out of the plane together. I asked him, ‘Do we need to put in a digital double on another guy’s back?’ He was like, ‘We can do that for real.’ The wingsuit pilots were phenomenal to watch. Not only are they making these incredible maneuvers in the air but also photographing themselves doing it with just the right camera angles and action, and doing multiple takes during the freefall.” Falcon (Anthony Mackie) flies through a helicopter to grab his intended target. “There are two parts to that,” Leven explains. “There is a wide shot where it is all digital. Then there is a closeup. We had the stuntman playing Captain Vassant sitting on a chair with a wire pull. He was pulled out and then we added a digital Falcon on top of that. Somewhere when he gets pulled out, we transition to a digital Captain Vassant. So easy!”
The interview – linked above – contains extensive production stills, plus lots more detail on the VFX process for the film.