More on Iron Man 3: VFX Barrel of Monkeys Air Force One Scene – How?


Visual Effects in Barrel Monkey Scene:
In a recent interview on with 3 of the special effects masters behind the hot new movie Iron man 3, Chris Townsend, the film’s Visual Effects Supervisor explained how the famour Barrel of Monkey’s scene was created using digital effects.

Townsend explained that Iron Man 3 had “over 2000 visual effects shots, created by over 1200 people, made up of VFX artists and production teams.” He added that although they always try to film things real, it allows the director more creative freedom to solve some things digitally.

Gizmodo interviewer was keen to hear how the spectacular Barrel of Monkeys scene was created especially since they had noticed that a skydiving team had in fact been credited for the stunt.

Townsends response was that they realized that for the scene to be as effective as it was, they needed to start with something as close to REAL as possible. “We wanted to really feel the action, to get the sense of free falling, the terror that comes with that.” Chris went on to say.

He explained that in their preliminary talks with the stunt department, they decided to shoot skydivers, ‘falling out of control’ instead of trying to recreate the action on wires, on a greenscreen. They needed to see if the stunt team could pull off the required choreography, showing Iron Man saving the people one at a time. A short section of the sequence, for which they had created a previs animatic, was selected, and then they shot the test with a stunt skydiving team. “The result was a total success, proving that in mid air, the actions could be recreated.”

This was just the start! Normally several shoots would have to take place at varied heights and they needed to simulate the coastline in Florida even though they were actually shooting in North Carolina. They needed all types of light and again this would mean multiple shoots. Townsend said that, “It would require us to rotoscope all the skydivers, in every shot, replace the background with a digital matte painting of our new environment from the correct altitude, unify the lighting so that shot to shot things would look the same and paint out the parachute packs.”

So they ran some tests to see how far they could vere away from the original shots and still keep the lighting and the scary feeling of the fall. Over the period of 7 days jumping 10 times daily with 15 skydivers, they got their footage. Then began the intense job of replacing backgrounds, balancing light, painting out parachutes that may have been “specially built.” They had to blow up a CG plane, add some CG clouds and debris and add a full CG Iron Man “with specially created thrusters and animated aerodynamic panels.”

The grand finale of the scene where all the members of the group are individually dropped into the water by Iron Man was achieved by suspending the stunt divers on a 14 person zip line, flying them between giant cranes and then painting out the cranes and wires and replacing the water to give the appearance of Floridian waters. Then they added an Iron Man ūüôā

Their goal was to maintain the angles, and the dramatic effect without giving away that there was so much visual effect usage. The scene speaks for itself! Spectacular!

-Val cameron/Dreamlight

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