To create a film as enormously epic as Avengers: Infinity War, you need a small village of folks, all highly skilled in a variety of areas and all working in sync with each other, to bring audiences the incredibly visually astounding final product that Marvel has become known for. When they’re done right, visual effects can leave you in awe and wondering just how they pulled it all off.
Collider was recently invited to Disney Studios in Burbank, Calif. to chat with Visual Effects Supervisors Dan DeLeeuw (Marvel Studios), Russell Earl (ILM) and Kelly Port (Digital Domain) about how they came to be working on Marvel films, the combination of art, science and technology that it takes to complete these epic productions, working up until the last possible second, the process of bringing a key character to life through visual effects, the challenges with Thanos that they didn’t have with the Hulk, whether they were fans of comics growing up, collaborating with such talented casts, and the development of the de-aging process.
Collider: How exactly did each of you guys get here, working on these insanely crazy Marvel movies?
DAN DeLEEUW: It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. We all share Star Wars as our favorite movie, in the past. It blended nicely with the types of things that I was interested in, with art and technology, and bringing them together. You just have to work your way into the business as best you can, and work your way up. I got lucky enough to get on second unit for Iron Man 3. And then, I met the Russo brothers on Winter Soldier and have been running with them ever since, through the Avengers movies.
RUSSELL EARL: As a kid, I would get toys and remote control cars, and I’d take stuff apart. I’d hide under my bed until I could figure out to put it back together. I did a lot of model making and building stuff. I went to art school, and studied design and industrial design, which naturally led into visual effects. I actually started as a traditional model maker, building spaceships and buildings, and flying cameras through it. I also had an interest in computers and played with the computer side of things. I just tried to transition from the traditional work into the computer stuff. I got a job at ILM and worked on a bunch of films, and then I fell in with Dan [DeLeeuw] and the Marvel crew on Winter Soldier. It’s been great.
KELLY PORT: I was interested in and inspired by Star Wars when it first came out, and I always had an interest in computers, photography and art, and a curiosity about so many different things. When this small company, Digital Domain, started in ‘93, I was fortunate enough to start relatively soon. I started in ‘94, and I’ve been there ever since. I worked my way up through that company. Just being interested in lots of different things keeps your interest pretty tight. Everything is always changing with the technology and new problems to be solved. You want to always keep it fresh.