Territory holds an impressive creative pedigree having contributed assets to a number of films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe including Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Age of Ultron and
Guardians of the Galaxy, all which made extensive use of Maxon’s acclaimed 3D content creation software, Cinema 4D.
Maxon recently spoke with Marti Romances, creative director and co-founder of Territory Studio San Francisco, who outlined the 3D creative experience in producing animated content for Avengers: Endgame, Marvel’s highly anticipated sequel to
Avengers: Infinity War and epic conclusion in the franchise.
Tell us about the overall creative brief Territory received from Marvel forAvengers: Endgame?
Territory’s brief came initially during production of Avengers: Infinity War. Working with a group of artists at Territory and with Lyniel Dao as producer, we worked with the Marvel art department, led by production designer Charles Wood, to reimagine screens for Guardians of the Galaxy’s new Star Lord spaceship.
A few months into the project we learned that there would be a second film, Avengers: Endgame, and received separate briefs to create assets and concept development to drive the story forward. This included outdated technology and malfunctioning screen graphics, visualizations for a futuristic Japanese Karaoke bar, tablet screens for Tony Stark/Iron Man as well as various animated assets for the Avengers Compound.
Cinema 4D is credited as a cornerstone digital content creation tool in the Territory production pipeline. What role did it play on Avengers: Endgame?
For Endgame, the MoGraph toolset in Cinema 4D was essential to successfully design and animate all of the core graphic concepts and screen graphics in the film. We used a very simple mix of cloners, tracers and wireframe passes in the software, which was enough for us to composite them onto different screens without having to rely on heavy and long render times.
The Karaoke scene in Endgame is among the many visually intensive sequences Territory crafted 3D screen graphics for to move the story ahead. Can you tell us more?
The most intense sequence for us on Endgame was to create a complete holographic Karaoke stage in CG. We presented six different character concepts to Charles and the Russo Brothers, the directors on the film.
Our team ended up designing a group of dancing robotic cats that we later modeled and animated following references provided by the Marvel art department. The power of Cinema 4D was the ability to import Alembic files for all our baked character animations so that we could apply textures and materials.
We also created the psychedelic background animations that were displayed on all the screens around the bar, and that we animated to music. GPU accelerated graphics were especially helpful in quickly visualizing the impact of lighting on material variations and colors, as well as being able to test different stage design concepts.
Endgame features a change in the way the technology screen graphics look in the context of the broader theme of the story. What 3D challenges did you face in realizing the design direction on the film?
Our work on the Avengers Compound, for example, was to conceptualize the look and feel of screen graphics on things such as the identification/verification systems in doors and access areas. These marked a progression in the organization’s technology due to new characters being introduced into the Endgame story from other MCU films such as
Guardians of the Galaxy and
Black Panther, which required them to share some of the same technology.
Relying heavily on the particle systems, noise displacements and shade effectors in Cinema 4D gave us the flexibility to create dynamic screen graphics that had a very organic look and feel useful in the Compound sequences as well as for those we provided for the Star Lord’s new space ship.
The creative team also explored how computer graphics screen technology would function and look on Tony Stark’s tablet screens when he is researching dimensions and alternate parallel universes. We dug into physics, magnetic fields research, and so forth, to get the right visual concept in front of the directors. The fact that Cinema 4D allows you to ‘play’ with formulas in 3D space was crucial in getting successful results quickly.