Interview to Rise FX – The visual effects of Captain America: The Winter Soldier

A few weeks after the theatrical release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the living legend sequel directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, we present in exclusive a detailed and interesting interview with Rise FX, a company that took part in the making of the visual effects in the movie.

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Hi, do you want to tell us something about RISE?
RISE was founded in 2007 by four computer graphics enthusiasts who were also crazy about film. After a couple of years of providing high profile visual effects for different European film productions and television movies we were asked to climb on board for Warner Bros. Ninja Assassin that was shooting in Berlin at the time. Since then our reputation has been constantly on the rise with our latest credits including Iron Man 3, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, The Book Thief and Cloud Atlas. We are also working in parallel for the European TV show Borgia and for several other blockbuster and indy films.

How you get involved in Capt. America The Winter Soldier?
We know the brilliant people at Marvel Studios since “Captain America – The first Avenger”. We’ve been working with them on several movies over the years and in this particular case VFX producer Jen Underdahl – who we knew from Percy Jackson – introduced us to Dan Deleeuw, the VFX supervisor.

Which are the scenes you worked more on, can you tell us in detail?
We’ve worked on a whole bunch of different sequences. We started off helping here and there to get the movie done, providing greenscreen window inserts for the council meeting and monitor screen comps for all sorts of control rooms. We also created a CG espionage satellite, did window inserts for the armored vehicle after Captain America is arrested, designed Nick Fury’s bad eye underneath his eye patch, did some composites to tie shots in the Smithsonian Museum together, extended the interior of the SHIELD HQ and blew up the underground server room in which Black Widow and Captain America discover SHIELD’s dark secret.

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Which were the main instructions from Marvel Studios?
We receive shots from other facilities as reference if a specific location, object or vehicle has already been designed along the road. In that case we try to match the reference. In case of the satellite however we looked at a couple of reference images from all sorts of space agencies and started designing based on real world reference.

I’ve read that you worked in close collaboration with Trixter. How this collaboration, in which scenes you collaborated more? Do you want to describe them?
Trixter had created backgrounds for the sequence underneath the army base in Hydra’s old server room. We were given the shots at the end of the sequence when the server room is blown to pieces by a missile strike. Trixter provided us with their 3D model and textures of the room and some renderings and shots to match to. From there we took over re-assembling everything in our destruction pipeline, defining materials including their behavior when force is applied. For example we had to make sure that concrete cracks, crumbles and breaks, glass shatters into shards and metal bends. We then defined the individual forces, added dust to the room that gets kicked up in the air by the initial shock wave and timed every event to work well in the cut. The directors also made notes on which objects should break at what time and that the flames should be just inches away from the actors.

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Which members of your team worked on the film, how long?
Florian Gellinger was VFX supervisor for three months of production time with Markus Degen taking over for the server room destruction sequence during the last couple of weeks. Oliver Hohn acted as compositing supervisor and René Grasser was our production manager on Captain America 2, all backed up by the best VFX team imaginable.

Which are the main technologies involved?
Everything that’s in the computer graphics book: Fluid fire, smoke and particle simulations, shatter algorithms, rigid body simulations, PBR render technology, matte painting and digital compositing.

Which were the main troubles/problems?
Only the time available to complete the film. The most difficult shots had to be done in just three weeks.

Future projects? Some other collaboration with Marvel Studios?´
We are currently working on Guy Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Tom Tykwer’s A Hologram for the King and the third season of the TV series Borgia. There are also some other projects going on that we can’t talk about yet.

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