Green Lantern Will Power
When it came to powering DC's Green Lantern, Sony Pictures Imageworks was charged with the superhero light suits as well as the construct energy force that brings objects from imagination to lethal life; the home planet of Oa; and the CG creatures, ranging from trainers Tomar-Re (voiced by Geoffrey Rush) and Kilowog (voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan) and the villainous Krona/Parallax (voiced by Clancy Brown). The opportunity to work on 1,000 out of 1,500 total shots allowed Imageworks to put the proprietary Arnold renderer to full use for the first time on a vfx-intensive film and to evolve its animation tools and rigging pipeline.
But it began with the suit. Green Lantern, directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale), tells the origin story of reckless pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), who is recruited by the Green Lantern Corp. to save the universe using the power of Will, which is generated by a unique green energy source.
"The suit goes underneath the microscope like a lot of these things when you have a tentpole," admits Jim Berney, visual effects supervisor at Imageworks. "You've not only got Warner Bros., Campbell and Imageworks looking at it, but you've also got DC and the fanboys looking at it too. Spider-Man dons a really cool suit, but it is something he can put on and take off. For Green Lantern, it's like a construct. He puts this ring on and it's the energy that forms around his body and whatever clothes he's wearing. The morphology changes into a suit. To do that, we went with a full-body replacement for those three principal actors. You'll see muscle structure and muscle fibers underneath. There's an outer layer that slides around on top of the muscle layer, and where the symbol is works as a pilot light. And he has these stages of energy: When he's in ready mode, you can see the energy roiling within. It's in the logo and spreads along his pecks. As he gets into battle mode, it starts to fire up and move closer to the surface. As he's charged up and starts to levitate or fly, it surfaces more as he creates constructs. You'll see the energy flare up and move from the core of his chest and also down his neck and shoulder to the ring and blast out to create these constructs."
The energy itself was quite an R&D project. They wanted it to look unique: not like electricity or fire. They wanted the energy to have purpose to its movement. It was another iconic piece of the puzzle. So they tried different iterations of how the energy emitted around his body. It started with concept designs by Grant Majors and others two years ago and then evolved into bringing movement into CG. Campbell tended toward the subtle at first. He didn't want it to look "corny" or "goofy." But, of course, the energy amps up as the fighting and destruction escalate.