Avengers: Endgame is the sixth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe which Cinesite has contributed visual effects to. The latest record-breaking box office smash includes 264 of our shots, which were overseen by Cinesite VFX supervisor Simon Stanley-Clamp.
Endgame picks up where Avengers: Infinity War left off, when half of life in the universe was destroyed with a single snap of Thanos’ fingers. Five years later, the remaining Avengers assemble once more to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe.
The iconic sequence where Tony Stark is lost in space on board Quill’s M-Ship was largely down to Cinesite. We created the exterior shots of the ship, which show the loneliness and isolation of its position in space, as well as what we see through the ship’s windscreen. We also blackened Nebula’s eyes and added her robotic arm in CG.
The exciting chase of Hawkeye by the terrifying Outriders beneath the rubble of the Avengers’ base was also our work. With eight limbs for each creature and a great deal of interaction between them, the choreography of the action was a particular challenge.
We created a number of animation cycles to reflect the multiple ways the Outriders move – running, climbing, crawling and leaping. Although Hawkeye is fast, the Outriders are faster. It quickly became apparent in blocking the animation for the shots, that their strength in numbers was also their weakness within a tunnel environment. They get in each other’s way in a confined space, each intent on its prey, regardless of the actions of the others. The scenes were blocked out and the animation subsequently refined for each creature, ensuring convincing interaction with the tunnel environment.
Much of our work involved revisiting scenes from previous Marvel movies Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). For those, it was important to match the content and tone of the original film. Rhodey and Nebula’s brief encounter with Quill from Guardians is one such example. The action takes place on the deserted planet Morag. As the M-Ship’s escape pod descends to the surface, four full CG shots show the planet from various angles. One wide shot was created to match an original view, but in the modern version the viewers’ perspective is slightly shifted to the left. Greenscreen shots of the actors were extended 100% by adding columns, ruined architecture, dripping water and foliage.
Cinesite also created visual effects for the subsequent sequence where Nebula captures the orb, damaging her arm in the process.
Environments were a key aspect of our work, including the recreation of 1970s Camp Lehigh from Captain America: The First Avenger. In one shot, where we see Stark walking across a busy forecourt, the camera tilts up to reveal the full extent of the base. This was created using a combination of CG buildings and vehicles, and populating the scene using bluescreen elements of hundreds of extras retimed and repositioned on cards placed in Nuke to fill out the shot.
Our team also created a time travel sequence set in Marvel’s The Avengers in New York city, which involved Ant-Man sabotaging Tony Stark’s chest RT, to create a diversion.