Going Deeper into X-Men's Origins
For Shaw, the idea was to convey his ability to absorb energy like a big battery and then unleash it. All of Shaw's scenes were handled by Digital Domain, which principally focused on animating Shaw and handling certain CG environments such as the atrium and mirror room. DD's team consisted of Jay Barton (vfx supervisor), Nikos Kalaitzidis (digital effects supervisor), Bernd Angerer (animation supervisor), Brian Gazdik (effects animation supervisor) and Dan Platt (character modeling lead).
Not surprisingly, the technique for creating CG humans on this one was different from both Benjamin Button and Clu: "We only had a few months to do 100 shots," Kalaitzidis suggests. "We used witness cams so all the animation had to be done by hand for Kevin's performance, and he has quite a distinctive walk and swagger. The mirror room was shot on greenscreen and we had to recreate this digital environment with animated versions of Shaw and Magneto as well as CG body doubles to reflect in the mirrors infinitely. In the past, we used mental ray for CG heads, but here we switched to Vray because we had a lot of motion blur and reflections in the mirrors, so we wanted a renderer that could utilize both.
For Mystique, Rhythm & Hues (under the supervision of Greg Steele) took her transition to a more sophisticated level, according to Dykstra. "In an odd way, the conceit is that when Mystique was younger she did this transformation in a slightly different way: the scales being slightly longer and the transformation being slightly showier than when she became the more mature Rebecca."
Rhythm & Hues also did Angel's wings (modeled after a dragon fly); however, Emma Frost, which posed another significant challenge. Dykstra says they made her like a faceted crystal as opposed to a piece of glass. "That was tough getting the refraction and reflection just right, and the sharpness of the edges so she was able to move without looking like she was made of jell-o or the polygon model of a human being. It's all algorithms: figuring out how much refraction to mix in, how much reflection to include and how much world noise to include as these facets adjust relative to one another for her to be able to move."
Meanwhile, Havok (Lucas Till) required a particular character arc to his light effect, which was done by Luma Pictures (supervised by Vince Cirelli). "He learns how to master its execution which starts out as rings that go in all directions like a light bulb," Dykstra adds.
And what's the big take away on this X-Men prequel?