Ant-Man and the Wasp VFX Breakdown

Ant-Man and the Wasp is Marvel’s  movie & Sequel for Ant Man. BUF, Double Negative, Lola Visual Effects, Luma Pictures, Method Studios, Rodeo FX & Scanline VFX worked on Visual Effects for Ant-Man 2.

Rodeo FX

Rodeo FX worked on 132 shots including built extensions of Pym’s Lab and created shrink-and-grow effects in four different locations. All the sequences where Hank Pym’s lab shrinks and grows from the size of a suitcase to a full-sized building, as well as the surrounding disturbances that Rodeo FX team created with FX simulations.

They also worked on environment extensions for the film, such as adding CG sequoias to a Georgian forest, and  creating and animating a CG pigeon who refuses to leave on Pym’s suitcase-sized lab.

One of our favorite sequences for Rodeo FX, is the destruction scene at San Francisco’s Pier 41. As Pym’s lab suddenly grows back to its regular building size, it destroys everything around it from the ground to trees, benches and newsstands.

Scanline VFX

Scanline VFX worked on 320 shots for the movie including Restaurant and Kitchen Fight sequences, Waterfront and San Francisco Bay scenes, shots of the giant ant in Scott’s apartment, the post credits Quantum Realm shots and a variety of one-off’s scattered throughout the film.

Luma Pictures

Luma Pictures, the renowned independent studio, joins forces once again with the Marvel Cinematic Universe to help bring Ant-Man and The Wasp to the big screen.  Following a successful collaboration on the 2015 film,Ant-Man, Luma continues their exceptional work alongside Marvel filmmakers to bring the story of Ant-Man, its characters, settings, and the action-packed adventure to life through state-of-the-art effects and bespoke technology.

Working across the Los Angeles and Melbourne studios, Luma handled several key sequences and character developments to help create the thrilling and captivating Ant-Man and The Wasp experience for audiences.

Luma paired sequencing techniques and full CG builds to create one of the most complex scenes of the film where Ant-Man and The Wasp infiltrate Ghost’s hideout. The sequence begins as both Ant-Man and The Wasp shrink to travel through the microscopic holes in brick walls. Luma created an entire environment through CG and used their understanding of size and depth perception to create flying sequences that are captured as though a cinematographer designed them. This allowed the shots to feel realistic and give audiences a varied view of the flying characters.

 

The team used blue screen-full CG replacements and 3-D face replacements to bring characters to life. The in-house Luma studio was also used to shoot mocap physicality sequences.

For the quantum tunnel sequence, Luma digitally recreated an entire environment, understanding the complexity that would come with making the tunnel dynamic. The look was designed from heavily treated 3D passes and plates, leaning heavily on the composite look development lead to create the look in step with the FX artists. 

“Our quantum tunnel is meant to be a version 1.0 of the technology, so it’s imperfect, messy and it’s also meant to run out of control and explode,” said Kevin Souls, VFX Supervisor. “Stephane Ceretti wanted us to explore the idea of an effect that would feel purely optical and use distortion instead of energy, all while maintaining a feeling of force and power.”

Luma artists used a combination of effects to enhance key character moments in the film, showcasing their advanced ability at storytelling through CG and animation. While Ant-Man is hiding in the school, he suddenly has an issue with controlling his suit. The idea behind the sequence was to use an old technique called forced perspective, aided by modern technology, to achieve the visual gag of the giant-sized Ant-Man literally bursting at the seams of a small broom closet. To accomplish this, all the plates were designed to be shot independently and then assembled in the compositing process.

“Ant-Man was shot in a green screen scale model of the room interior and The Wasp was shot using reference props to simulate interaction,” said Souls. “The room interior itself was captured as a plate but also scanned in 3D, so we could easily recreate the shots that required a virtual camera move and to manipulate the ceiling when Ant-Man slams into it.”

The pieces were individually tracked and match-moved while another camera was created to re-film the scene and compensate for the different field of views of each acquisition camera. Luma replaced pieces of Ant-Man’s body with a high-resolution full CG asset. The mix of photography and CG was a key tool Luma used that helped trick the eye and maintain all the subtle comedic performances. 

In Ant-Man and The Wasp, it was vital that the storyline and visuals continued flawlessly from the first film. Special attention was paid to creating the missile launch, which had to be replicated exactly, to produce the look and feel of the shots from the original Ant-Man.

Luma researched a Russian missile silo and began the build by first focusing on the minute details of the asset to achieve photorealism in extreme close-ups. Additionally, the artists developed volumetric for the launch plume, smoke trail, and cloud banks. The missile, Hank, and Janet assets from the original film were ingested to match the looks exactly, intercutting poses and identical actions across the edits. To tie it all together, Luma created a particle pass for the ice crystals and wispy volumetrics as they pass through the clouds. 

After animation was locked, Luma made selects from high-resolution face capture photography of Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer. That footage was de-aged and then inserted into the eye shields of the characters, in both the new and old shots. 

Luma’s work on Ant-Man and The Wasp showcases the studio’s in-depth understanding and ability to create full 360 scenes from character development to intuitive environments.  Luma is always looking to expand their knowledge and capabilities to achieve the most challenging tasks in a realistic, authentic and imaginative way.

Cinesite

Cinesite delivered 200 shots for Ant Man & the Wasp, a Marvel Cinematic Universe feature directed by Peyton Reed.

In the aftermath of “Captain America: Civil War,” Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) grapples with the consequences of his choices as both a Super Hero and a father. As he struggles to rebalance his home life with his responsibilities as Ant-Man, he’s confronted by Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) with an urgent new mission. Scott must once again put on the suit and learn to fight alongside The Wasp as the team works together to uncover secrets from their past.

In a project spanning eight months Cinesite’s Montreal team delivered six key VFX sequences in the film. One of the main aspects of the team’s work was bringing the super-sized trap-jaw ants to life in Dr Hank Pym’s laboratory where they are assisting the scientist in his secret refuge in a disused building in Oakland.

Under the supervision of Stephane Paris Cinesite’s artists got to flex their creative muscles showcasing their advanced ability at storytelling through CG and animation with some fun sequences involving super-sized ants. In one of Cinesite’s key sequences we see 20 giant ants working in Hank’s lab building the quantum tunnel using different props like power drills, cases, cables and a welding backpack.

The team were tasked with designing the realistic ants which Ceretti was looking to develop from the first film. Cinesite’s animation supervisor Scott Holmes carried out extensive research to create a walk cycle library of various postures and movements of how the ants should walk and interact with their environment and people to make them believable at the larger than life-size. To achieve performance and characterisation Cinesite’s modeling lead, James Stone sculpted and modelled the ants with strong physical differences so the audience could easily identify them.

 

The lookdev team then added subsurface scattering light transmissions to define roughness. Such variations to the true nature of trap-jaw ants was needed to prevent them from appearing too clean and plastic-looking when scaled up. It was not only their head shapes and proportional differences between their thorax and abdomens that varied but also their colors. To achieve the photo real finish the translucency was adapted according to the maturity of the ants by including internal shapes to simulate the chitin thickness and help the shading work. Each hero Ant was made of 82,000 polygons. To shade the ants, the team worked with their integrated Arnold render solution. As one of several vendors handling visual effects on the film, Cinesite shared ant and lab assets with other studios.  “We built things in a clean way that would be fairly easy to reproduce and wrote some documentation as to how we were achieving a certain look,” said Paris. “The biggest challenge was creating the ants at a photo realistic quality and striking a balance in the animation between the slightly exaggerated weighting and true to nature movement of the ants to make them look believable despite their large size.”

To help overcome some of the challenges the artists encountered whilst creating the super-size ants Cinesite’s development team created an automated render system articulated around Cinesite’s bundle system. Based on the final textures, a simpler shading version of the ants and a simple lighting set-up, the team could present the animation termed ‘Bundle Renders’ in a more realistic integrated way to Ceretti.

Cinesite’s trap-jaw ant sequences take place within the incredible interior of Hank Pym’s lab, which is made from improvised devices made of large (or small) items powering the equipment and holding it all together. Using CG the team extended the practical set in many shots featuring the giant trap-jaw and carpenter ants on the upper and lower floors. Artists added and removed various props such as a giant AA battery pack and RC shock absorbers to match the ones that were built practically on set.  In some instances, the artists needed to remove practical parts of the onset lab such as the engine pistons, replacing them with animated CG versions to allow them to control the prop interaction with the CG ants who are using a CG suspended pulley system to replace the tip of the engine piston.  

A key feature of the Pym’s lab is the Antenna Array which Hank and Hope are using to locate Janet van Dyne in the Quantum realms. Cinesite updated the Antenna replacing the onset screens completely with CG. The antenna’s model and textures were enhanced by lookdev, making the metal panels appear covered with a liquid crystal based layer to enable the illumination and the animation of text on the moving screens in a logical way to the audience. As with all things in Pym’s lab, the Antenna Array has been upcycled so the team needed to reflect it’s mechanical quality in the animation so the screens and panels didn’t appear weightless and automated. 

Outside of Hank’s lab Cinesite also created a suburban San Francisco environment where Scott has been placed under house arrest by the FBI. Scott and his daughter ride a sled down the outdoor stairs of a terraced house. The team extended the street and neighbourhood environment using lidar scans and 360 degrees reference photos from the San Francisco block to deliver a 2.5D set extension. 

 

DNEG

Double Negative were responsible for the key sequences in Act 3, as well as multiple other sequences throughout the film. The work ranged from development of signature FX looks for hero characters and events, through character animation and environment work, to the full range of VFX mayhem that’s required for a car chase. The show was led from DNEG Vancouver, with support from our locations around the globe.

DNEG global Stereo team delivered over 500 shots for Ant-Man and the Wasp and also contributed with a sequence of shots to be used as a 4D experience at Disneyland Parks.

Method Studios

Method Studios worked on 130 shots for the movie. Scott Lang and Hope van Dyne come together to uncover secrets from their past; a journey that takes Scott into the Quantum Realm. Method designed and created the magical alternate dimension based on concepts from Marvel and guidance from Director Peyton Reed and Production VFX Supervisor Stephane Ceretti. Method artists also handled a comedic gag when Scott’s suit malfunctions and he’s stuck at the size of a preschooler; and created digital doubles for both Ant-Man and The Wasp that were used when the characters are either small or transitioning in size.

Elastic

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