Behind The Scenes of Avengers: Age of Ultron – Interview with AtomHawk Design

While the movie directed by Joss Whedon finally arrives in our home in DVD and Blu Ray, we present an esclusive interview with AtomHawk Design, a company of which we admired the great work in Thor: The Dark World and Guardians of The Galaxy, who worked on the Earth Mightiest Heroes sequel.

Working on Avengers: AOU, you once again displayed your visual power with concept art pieces such as the one for the Hydra base in Sokovia, Stark’s laboratory, rafts deployed from the Helicarriers, but you also created the ones for Hawkeye’s house. Can you describe to us each of these works and the contrast between working on technologic elements and creating a classic American farm?
We had four artists working on the project, all with their own specific skill sets and strengths. Two of the artists worked on the more technology focussed designs, such as Stark’s laboratory, the helicarrier rafts and Leviathan Chamber. For these images, the aim was to create a detailed production design that could be translated into a physical set or closely recreated with VFX. The other two artists worked on Hawkeye’s farmhouse and Ultron’s robot factory. Both of these images were more about creating a look and feel for the locations, focussing more on evoking mood and emotion than the design for a set.

How many people from AtomHawk worked on Avengers: Age of Ultron and for how long? What were the main differences with the previous Marvel movies you worked on?
Four artists spent 6 months working on the project. We had previously worked on Thor: The Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy so the main difference was working within a world that’s based in reality rather than fantasy. The look and mood of the film was a really big departure from the colour and resplendence of Guardians, with a much greater focus on precision and technology and less of the magic and myth of the previous two films.

In your concept art we can catch a glimpse of the Hydra base, which seems to remind us of those old nazi strongholds from films such as Where Eagles Dare or The Heroes of Telemark. What inspired you in the creation?
For the Hydra fortress factory and weapons storage facilities, we took reference from Eastern European castles, with their dungeons and catacombs, to help inform our designs. At the same time, we needed to keep in mind that Hydra has a strong World War II heritage from the original Captain America film so we also drew on the colossal spaces of German V-2 underground factories. Those Hydra guys just like to stick with what they know best!

Were there any specific requests, by Whedon or by the production designer, about designing some setting in a certain way to create a particular atmoshpere?
The atmosphere we needed to create with each image was given as part of the briefing process, either verbally or as a series of reference images. When designing Hawk Eye’s farmhouse, we were given a selection of images of a typical American farmhouse, then a few days into the work, Joss Whedon handed our Production Director an image of his own house as a point of reference and the design moved on from there.

You recently announced you will open a new studio in London. Can you give us a few more details about that?
The aim in opening a London studio is to allow us to build on our experience of creating concept art, user interface design and marketing artwork for games and film, bringing these services to a wider market and helping us to expand into new creative spaces.
The doors will open officially in a few weeks’ time, under the wing of Mat Hart who has previously worked in management and production roles at a number of games studios, including Ninja Theory and Capcom.
We’re currently recruiting for concept artists and UI/UX designers to come and join the London team and we’re really excited to see where this new venture might take us!

We know that you won’t answer this question, but can we hope in your further involvement regarding the upcoming (and much anticipated) Doctor Strange?
We haven’t been involved in the production of Dr Strange, but we do have lots of new projects up our sleeves which we hope to announce in 2016!

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