We’re celebrating the July 22 premiere of “Captain
By Zack Zeigler
|Chris Evans as Steve Rogers before his transformation in "Captain America: The First Avenger"|
If the visual effects in a movie look phony, the story essentially doesn’t matter. Cheesy effects can strip a film of emotion and believability. To avoid that trap in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” the visual effects team had to discover how to turn weakling Steve Rogers into the bulky Captain America without making it look cartoonish.
“We thought about doing full CG versions of the character, and we thought about using a different actor,” said Christopher Townsend, the film's VFX supervisor. “But we eventually came up with…a sort of digital plastic surgery that would allow us to capture the essence of Chris Evans’ performance in everything we did. That way, the audience will get to know this skinny guy at the beginning of the movie, and it will be quite dramatic when he’s transformed into Captain America.”
If audiences don’t notice the visual effects team’s work, then they did their job. That put a lot of pressure on director Joe Johnston’s VFX team. They had to be flawless in all areas, but especially when transforming Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America) from the gaunt and anemic Rogers into a heroic Super Solider.
|Chris Evans as Steve Rogers after his transformation in "Captain America: The First Avenger"|
“The first thing we tried was to transplant a muscly guy’s head onto a skinny guy’s head," Townsend said. “And our next challenge was to see if we could take the muscly guy and slim him down and make him look like that skinny guy; we scaled him down, thinned him out, and made him look as skinny as possible. That proved we could use Chris Evans’ actual performance, and that’s what we wanted to capture in everything we did.”
Those are the Cliff’s Notes--it was way more involved than that. They didn’t simply scale Evans down, but to keep him looking symmetrical, they had to thin out his arms, adjust his height, decrease his shoulder width to give him a “coat hanger” look, and reduce the shading around the pecs and abs.
“This technique is something we’ve never seen before in visual effects,” said Townsend. “It’s been done to make people look a bit thinner, or more muscular, but what we did was take it a step further and really transform the body so it looks totally different.”
"Captain America: The First Avenger" will focus on the early days of the Marvel Universe when Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) volunteers to participate in an experimental program that turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America. As Captain
Check out the official "Captain America: The First Avenger" teaser site as well as its hub page right here on Marvel.com for the latest on Cap's big screen adventure hitting theaters July 22!
In addition to "Captain America: The First Avenger," Marvel Studios will release a slate of films based on the Marvel characters including "Marvel's The Avengers" on May 4, 2012, and "Iron Man 3" on May 3, 2013.