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|Avengers: Endgame is without a doubt a huge success for Marvel Studios. The movie has already earned more than 2.6 billion dollars worldwide, thanks in part to the amazing work of studios such as Framestore London.||Abdelkader Nouar was one of the artists who worked on this show. In this interview, he tells us about his work on key elements of Avengers: Endgame at Framestore London as a Creature FX TD.
All pictures : courtesy of Marvel Studios – 2019
|3DVF : First of all, could you tell us about your background? How did you become a Creature FX TD, and why ?
Abdelkader Nouar : After getting my French Baccalaureat, I started to study CG Animation and VFX at ESMA Montpellier for 3 years, after my graduation I got an offer from MPC London to work on Disney’s Jungle Book as a TechAnim Artist. I stayed there a couple of years and after that I went to Framestore where I had the opportunity to work on my first Marvel movies, like Guardians of the Galaxy vol.2, Thor Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War and finally Endgame. As of now, I am currently working as a Lead TechAnim/Creature FX at Mill Film Montréal.
|3DVF : You were one of the many artists who worked on Avengers: Endgame at Framestore London. Could you give us a few details about the studio’s involvement in the movie ? Which parts of Endgame were handled at Framestore London, and how big was the team ?
310 people worked on the show ; about 210 working together at the peak. For CFX we were 10 artists and 2 Leads. We were in charge of some of the sequences with the “Smart Hulk” and Rocket Racoon, a good chunk of the Time Heist briefing inside the Avengers Compound until the moment when they gather and go back in time and finally the 2014 Asgard sequence.
|3DVF : How did you and the rest of the department organized the work with your VFX Supervisor and VFX Producer ?
Just like what happened for Infinity War we had a short development phase in CFX before starting actual shots.
|We had around 2-3 Dailies per days, it wasn’t easy to keep pace with the huge amount of work, we could have something to show at 10am and addressing the notes for 3pm. But Rob Allman and Stuart Penn, our supervisors, were more than understanding for most of the issues we encountered despite tighter deadlines.|
|3DVF : Your work on the show was mainly centered on Rocket. Did you work on his fur, clothes ? What exactly were you in charge of, how did you approach your work, and what were the main challenges on this character ?
My main job was to build the simulations cloth rig for his new costume, fortunately compared to Guardians of The Galaxy vol.2 we did not had to setup a dynamic muscle system for him since he was fully clothed.
For the cloth we decided to go with Maya’s nCloth, since it’s the tool that most of the artists in the department are used to work with, and that way we could start running shots quickly despite the short dev time for our rigs.
|The biggest challenge for this character was that we were never sure of what kind of fabric his clothes were made of, but we I think we’ve managed to find a good look for them.
The thing that went back a lot from the client was his scarf, the motion and feel of it was never quite there, because of it’s small size it always felt like a toy. It took a lot of iterations, I probably had around a hundred versions of the cloth rig to get the final look.
For the fur Dynamics we used a newly developed inhouse solver called Fibre which is faster than the previous one and more accurate in term of collisions, especially since we had to deal with interactions with his scarf.
|3DVF : Another major task you were involved in was linked to Asgard and the Avengers Headquarters… Can you elaborate on this part of your work ?
The main thing on Asgard was obviously Rocket, it was the sequence where we had the most shots with him and this new costume. There are a lot of things happening with him in this sequence but the big part was him chatting with Thor and we had to be extra careful about the quality of the folds, the way they bend as he was not moving a lot, and also making sure that his scarf wasn’t too distracting.
Inside the Avengers headquarters the biggest part was Smart Hulk during the time travel briefing and the quantum van tests. Just for him we had to deal with 5 different variants for his clothes, 2 majors one with sweatshirt jacket and sweatpants, one were he’s only wearing his torn jeans (like classic Hulk), another one where he wears glasses and a different sweatshirt and a extra variant with him in a Time Suit.
|3DVF : You also worked on the Time Suits. Could give us some details about that ?
The main challenge for the Time Suits were the number of characters wearing them, the design changed quite a lot during the production and changing it meant that we had to rebuild our simulations rig for them, we started to run shots with final design very lately . And sometimes the deadlines were so tight that we ended up not simulating some of the shots and just trying to shot sculpt and fix whatever we can.
|3DVF : You were involved in a few shots featuring Ant-Man. Was this related to his suit ?
Yes, it was just a one off shot were Scott Lang walks towards his van and open the doors to reveal the quantum, on the plate Paul Rudd just wears his normal clothes, but we had to replace this and put him in the Quantum Suit that he wears in the following shot to keep the edit consistant.
|3DVF : Did you work on other parts of the movie ?
Yes, but very small parts, like the celebration on Wakanda: there’s a crowd cheering and waving flags, I had to simulate those said flags but honestly I don’t think we see them haha.
3DVF : What are you the most proud of on this project ?
I would say, the fact that we managed to wrap it despite the very tight deadline and huge amount of work and difficulties that we had to tackle.
|3DVF : Being a French artist in London, you followed the Brexit events closely. Did it have an impact on your life as an artist, and how is this event perceived by the London VFX community (both by British and foreigner artists) ?
It did not have a direct impact on my work but in general we can already feel some consequences of it , London is already an expensive city to live in and the cost of living has increased quite a bit since the vote. For the VFX community in London is a terrible thing, some of us are stressed about it some aren’t. Nobody knows exactly what will happen, work is still coming to London but we don’t know for how long. Uncertainty is making a lot of artists leave the country.
3DVF : Could you tell us about your upcoming projects ? What are you working on, now that Avengers: Endgame is out ?
For now I can’t tell since nothing has been announced yet, but it will be soon. 😉
3DVF : One last question : apart from Avengers: Endgame, is there a movie you recently watched that amazed you due to the quality of the creature FX ?
Very recently I would say Detective Pikachu, there’s such an incredible job on some flesh/skin/fat dynamics and for some of them, Pikachu is so cute that you just want to squish him !
Film aside the trailer for Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint has some really cool cloth simulations and hair dynamics in it.
|More information about Avenger: Endgame is available on Framestore‘s website.
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