We’re wrapping up our week of previews of Cinefex issue 139 with Mutant Destiny, Joe Fordham’s 21-page article about the visual effects of X-Men: Days of Future Past, in which Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) plunges back through time to save the world of the future, with the help of earlier incarnations of his familiar mutant allies.
In this extract, Digital Domain visual effects supervisor Lou Pecora explains how his team developed an organic approach to the skin-shifting abilities of the mutant Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), avoiding visible wipes or dissolves.
“We thought about what would happen if a creature like this existed,” said Pecora. “We hit on the idea of how a magician flips a line of playing cards — he spreads them out in a line, flips the first one, and others follow suit, revealing patterns on their reverse. Each Mystique transformation began with the texture of the first actor in the plate projected onto geometry of Mystique’s ‘feathers,’ with blue skin textures on the reverse. When the feathers flipped, revealing the blue, we dissolved to Jennifer’s human texture on the hidden side, which is then revealed when the feathers flipped again. That gave us three sides to a two-sided card, with blue in between, and disguised the dissolve when the feathers were oriented away from camera.”
Digital Domain lead rigging developer David Corral created the Mystique transformation technique – dubbed the ‘potato chip rig’ – in Autodesk Maya, and CG Supervisor Hanzhi Tang and animation lead Jack Kasprzak propelled feather-flipping motions by moving Boolean shapes across the model surface. Feathers were scalable, which allowed more detail in closeups. Compositing supervisor Michael Maloney then integrated blends between feather flips.
All content copyright © 2014 Cinefex LLC. All rights reserved.