FXguide: Iron Man 3

“The way that visual effects are these days is that we definitely are the can-do department,” – Chris Townsend. Comments the overall VFX supe on Marvel’s Iron Man 3, reflecting on the crucial role his department played in bringing the film to the big screen. Along with visual effects producer Mark Soper, Townsend co-ordinated 17 studios across the globe and more than 2,000 shots for the Shane Black-directed picture.

The challenge: Stark and Rhodes’ initial arrival at the sea port for their confrontation with Killian and his mercenaries relied on a mix of greenscreen and practical sets.

The solution: Cinesite carried out compositing for the sequence, as well as dozens of other shots for the film.

A further Cinesite comp. “We did the front end for Tony and Rhode’s arrival and the shoot-out,” says Cinesite visual effects supervisor Simon Stanley-Clamp. “It was mostly greenscreen comps and nesting greenscreens back into digital environments and then placing digi-environments back into greenscreens. The environments were models and textures from Weta that flashed through our pipeline which worked really well. Layouts were sent for quick approval, and we worked in additional smoke, dust, light passes.”

Cinesite also completed several traveling car composites and an aerial view of Stark’s factory – a re-purposed helicopter plate of a university campus that relied on digital matte painting and SpeedTree foliage work. And the studio delivered a key shot in which a character was killed off earlier than planned, and so had to be replaced with another character by painting her out, patching backgrounds back in and inserting the new actor from greenscreen.