Thor: The Dark World

Canvassing the Dark World: Thor's Jake Morrison

Visual Effects Supervisor Jake Morrison breaks down just how they brought Thor's world to life!

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By Zack Zeigler

As good of an actor as Chris Hemsworth (Thor) is, we’re willing to bet the farm that the dude can’t take flight, travel through the cosmos (without a space suit, no less), or treat a giant hammer like a boomerang. Point being, the quality of a film’s special effects are vital to keeping a character and story believable.

Marvel's "Thor: The Dark World" now in theaters and IMAX 3D

Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” Special Effects Supervisor Jake Morrison, who has previously worked on blockbusters like “Marvel’s The Avengers,” “Iron Man 2,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” “300” and “Spider-Man 2,” has become a seasoned pro at finding the delicate balance that uses as much footage as possible before relying on computer-generated effects.

“The main thing we've done with [‘Thor: The Dark World’] is try to focus on how we can make sure that it’s as ultra-realistic as it can possibly be,” Morrison explained to Marvel.com. “[We want to] make sure that we use as many locations as we can and as much aerial work…as we can get in there.”

He specifically credited his work on “Marvel’s The Avengers” for educating him on how to put a vast landscape into perspective for the audience.

Jane Foster takes in the beauty of Asgard in "Thor: The Dark World"

“[‘Marvel’s The] Avengers’ certainly had a lot of scale,” he said. “I think when you're in the middle of a battle scene, or any sort of intense moment…it's a wonderful thing to be able to cut to wide and get a little bit of reference for everything. And in the New York battle [in ‘Marvel’s The Avengers’], we did a good bit of that and I ended up shooting three days of aerial stuff over New York, which there's a few bits and pieces that you suddenly pop to [and] I always think that that helps with the overall layout.”

For Morrison, capturing enough footage is precisely what enables the computer graphics to be used adequately, not superfluously.

“When we're building CG on top of everything, we're actually working from photography rather than trying to just create everything synthetically on the computer, which I think is always a useful thing,” he said. “It's a little bit of real world of DNA in every frame. I think [doing that] makes the results a little bit better. So [we tried] to identify…what locations would be the most usable and then mount air units to get out there and capture everything we could.”

Kurse, Malekith and the Dark Elves go to war in "Thor: The Dark World"

Dealing with larger-than-life characters in “Thor: The Dark World,” including Dark Elves Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) and Algrim/Kurse (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), makes Morrison’s job even more challenging. Using the Incredible Hulk as an example, he broke down why framing a massive character can be problematic.

“You really have to think ahead,” he admitted. “If you know that your characters are going to be large, you have to make sure that you have [tall] stand-ins…and then you add items on top of them so you know where the top of their heads are. And then [you] basically allow the director of photography to see what the relative height of your character is going to be. So we're actually talking about characters that may or may not be CG, [and] you have to be careful to shoot with as much flexibility as possible to make changes later.”

Get your tickets now for Marvel's "Thor: The Dark World," now in theaters and IMAX 3D, and for the latest on the Mighty Avenger's new big screen adventure keep your eyes on Marvel.com, like the official Thor Facebook page and follow @ThorMovies on Twitter!

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