DC Universe’s live action series “Doom Patrol” brings together a misfit band of superheroes with diverse and unconventional powers, first introduced on the small screen in DC’s “Titans.” To translate these well-established characters from comic book pages to live action, Encore VFX Supervisor Armen Kevorkian, who oversees VFX for both “Doom Patrol” and “Titans,” collaborated closely with the production team, led by Jeremy Carver, and concept artists to develop looks that were grounded in the source material and visually striking for viewers.
“’Doom Patrol’ is like an R-rated ‘Alice in Wonderland,’” said Kevorkian. “Our driving mandate was to pay homage to these iconic comics, and it’s been a blast creating wild character amalgamations, like Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, which is as insane as it sounds, and crazy destruction sequences.”
In the comics, villain Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk) is very 2D dimensional, almost entirely solid black with various cut outs on his body. An extensive look development process led to Mr. Nobody’s physical appearance, experimenting with different ways to retain Tudyk’s on set performance in the embodiment of a character that is nearly all dark. On set, Tudyk was captured wearing a full body mocap suit and facial tracking markers to provide reference footage and facilitate rotoscoping. Encore VFX artists then inserted a mostly digital Mr. Nobody, with illuminated lines running throughout his body to bring visual depth to the character, which was achieved through animation-based simulations.
First introduced in “Titans,” hero character Elasti-Woman (April Bowlby) appears more prominently in “Doom Patrol,” giving artists an opportunity to further develop her appearance, with Kevorkian pushing the bulbous, intestinal look to be as disgusting as possible. When Elasti-Woman is super-sized colliding with large objects, such as when she barrels down the street as a giant blob knocking around cars, the sequences are typically filmed as practical plates with extensive CG compositing.
Development of the “Negative Spirit,” a being of pure energy that inhabits the body of the hero character, Negative Man (Matt Bomer), was more straightforward, as it was very specific from the outset, needing to reflect the presence of electricity and kinetic energy. Diverging from the comics’ black form and yellow energy, Encore VFX artists created a whitish-blue energy design that almost appears invisible. This approach gave the character a more dynamic on-screen appearance.
In addition to the “Doom Patrol” character development, Encore VFX creates an average of 200 VFX shots per episode, with 2D Supervisor Erin Bosworth, 3D Supervisor Julien Forest and VFX Producer Megan Condito helping Kevorkain lead the team. Encompassing a wide range, VFX work includes an intricate X-15 3D model, digital destruction, a CG town built in a snow globe and other attention-grabbing spectacles. “Doom Patrol” premiered on February 15; episodes are now streaming on DC Universe (www.dcuniverse.com).