MUNICH, GERMANY —
Trixter contributed 280 shots to the recent Captain Marvel release, marking its 10th collaboration with Marvel Studios, at its Munich facility.
Chris Townsend, the film’s overall VFX supervisor, engaged Trixter to deliver the CG cat “Goose,” one of Captain Marvel’s most compelling characters, along with some of the film’s early key space environments. VFX supervisor Dominik Zimmerle oversaw the team’s scope of work, which included: The search for Mar-Vell's spaceship in the Quad Jet; the battle aboard the Skrull ship and escape pod crash; Vers’ combat training sequence against Yon-Rogg; Captain Marvel’s weapons; energy building and intensifying through her hands and the subsequent Photon Blast and the CG cat “Goose.”
The primary challenge for Trixter was to blend the 70 CG digital Goose shots with real-live action cat footage. “Although there were four cats on set all playing the same Goose role, and we received reference videos from the cat trainer, it was still hard to achieve seamless back to back CG takeovers of Goose,” explains VFX supervisor Dominik Zimmerle. “We created Goose’s CG fur using Yeti. It was important to match the fur texture and clumping patterns of Reggie (the main cat on set); his fur was more scruffed up on his back and his belly fur was longer and fluffier. Matching our CG fur to the real cat fur was a huge challenge, as was achieving the natural interaction between Samuel L. Jackson and the CG Goose.”
The team used the ZIVA muscle system to achieve the skin deformation, sliding and jiggling so Goose appears to move in a lithe, fluid and realistic way.
The largest sequence within Trixter’s body of work was the Mindfrack ship escape, which sees Vers battling to escape the Skrulls and their ship. Trixter was responsible for the extensive damage to the ship throughout the battle, the energy effects from the Mindfrack machine and the ship’s core breaking. Captain Marvel’s photon powers and many other effects like the Skrulls’ shock stick weapons and the ships consoles (christened “dough balls” by the VFX crew) were also completed by Trixter.
Throughout the escape sequence, Captain Marvel’s efforts to break free of her cuff restraints increase, so Trixter had to ensure the gradual intensification of the energy building and glowing through her hands was consistently applied. From the initial battle in the interrogation room, the fighting moves to the ship’s core, where the most dramatic battle damage takes place. The destruction of the ship was primarily created in Houdini and the FX team were meticulous in ensuring that the incremental damage was consistent with the action.
Another set of hero shots see Captain Marvel hanging onto the core of the ship, before blasting herself through a door into relative safety. Star Brie Larson was filmed on set against blue screen hanging from a rig within a partial practical ship set. Trixter created the CG space environment for the sequence. In one of Trixter’s most challenging CG shots, the team replaced the practical set piece background wall with an animated continuously breaking one by adding debris and airflow to the foreground as well as several impact explosions from the debris hitting the energy core.
Digidoubles of the Skrulls were created for some fight scenes along with additional Skrulls who are sucked out of the ship. Compositing was integral to the success of the final sequence, from rig removal to paint work and the further removal of stunt rigs for the practical fighting.
Another notable aspect of Trixter’s work included Captain Marvel’s primary energy weapon, the Photon Blast. This was the first asset Trixter began working on even before principal photography began. Zimmerle and the team were responsible for developing a weapon style that had not been seen before in the MCU, the blast had to appear connected to Captain Marvel and its power wielded from within her. Marvel supplied Trixter with extensive still and moving image references. This combined with internal concept art, resulted in a finalized asset being developed and set up in Houdini, which was locked and shared with other vendors for use throughout the film.