Los Angeles-based visualization house Proof Inc. recently provided extensive previs and postvis services for the new Marvel Entertainment film Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
“This new film was an extremely important project for Proof,” said Proof’s founder/creative director Ron Frankel. “In fact, this was the biggest previs and postvis assignment in the history of our company. Previs has clearly become a critical element today as a story tool in the planning of action sequences within a 3D environment. We spent 14 months planning the previs for this new Captain America film, and then another eight months during the postvis process.”
“We began animating the previs for the film six months prior to the start of production,” explained Proof’s previs supervisor Monty Granito. “Working directly from the script, we created a number of exciting sequences, such as when Cap squares off against the Quinjet, jumping onto it and destroying it, and when the Helicarriers take off and shoot each other and fall into buildings.”
Granito explained that Proof also designed the flying sequences for the superhero Falcon, and visualized a large portion of the film’s finale, which translated into about 35 minutes of animation.
“There has been a real paradigm shift during the past few years when planning a feature film,” explained VFX supervisor Dan DeLeeuw. “We used to rely on storyboards, then on animatics, and now today on previs. Previs has secured a place for itself as an extremely valuable tool in helping to visualize an entire movie before physical production even starts. In the case of this new film, a huge third act fell onto the shoulders of Proof’s previs team to help structure.”
Working with DeLeeuw, the artists at Proof had to construct the third act in previs, working through all of the data to help determine how the sequences would eventually look. “This was the first time I was able to see the entire third act of a movie before a film even began shooting,” said DeLeeuw.
“Proof also delivered a good deal of postvis on this movie,” he added. “In the past, it required a lot of imagination to envision, during screenings, what the movie would actually look like. You’d see greenscreens where future VFX shots would appear, so there would be ‘holes’ in the story. Now, by integrating postvis, you can watch the entire film and really get a solid feel for what it will eventually look like.”
Gunnar Hansen, Proof’s postvis supervisor explained that the team worked closely with editor Jeff Ford and VFX editor George McCarthy for six months to provide postvis temps for over 1,400 shots. “We basically created very detailed 3D composites to fill in the pending vendor visual effects shots, as well as precise shots to send to the VFX vendors for timing, animation and design,” he explained.
“For the huge battle finale, several hundred shots were tracked, lit, rendered and composited to a very high level of detail. In the end, these contributions gave VFX, editorial and the studio a seamless, decisive and exciting cut for both final visual effects and for screenings,” Hansen concluded.