VFX 2016

VFX with a PUNCH! – How Heroes Get Their Superpowers

September 24, 2016 An AD/UPM Council West AD/UPM VFX/Digital Technology Committee Seminar:

On September 24, DGA members in Los Angeles’ DGA Theater Two received information on the challenges of adapting comic book superheroes to film and TV when the AD/UPM Council West’s AD/UPM VFX/Digital Technology Committee presented the seminar, VFX with a PUNCH! – How Heroes Get Their Superpowers. The seminar featured two panel discussions that covered this process in both feature films and television with the DGA and VFX Teams from the Russo Brothers’ Marvel Studios feature, Captain America: Civil War and the Warner Bros. Television series, Supergirl.

The day began with a welcome from AD/UPM VFX/Digital Technology Committee Chair Susan Zwerman (Vamps), who spoke a few words about the work of the Committee. Then AD/UPM VFX/Digital Technology Committee member David Sanger (Interstellar), who served as the moderator for both panels, got things rocking with the first installment that covered Anthony Russo and Joe Russo’s feature Captain America: Civil War.

The Captain America: Civil War session presented information about how they brought the Marvel Studios superheroes feature to life on the big screen. These secrets were divulged by Directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, 1st AD Lars P. Winther, VFX Producer Jen Underdahl, VFX Supervisors Dan DeLeeuw and Russell Earl, and Stunt Supervisor Sam Hargrave. Illustrated by clips, slides and other materials that featured the imagery needed to convey two teams of powerful superheroes pitted in battle against each other, the panel spoke about what it took to have The Avengers split in two and engage in the ultimate smackdown.

Following a short break, the seminar resumed with the panel about the making of the WB series, Supergirl. Director Glen Winter, UPM Gabriela Vázquez, 1st AD Scott Schaeffer and 2nd Unit Director/VFX Supervisor Armen Kevorkian gave the audience a behind-the-curtain look at what is necessary visually portray the fight for "truth, justice and the American Way" in weekly episodes of the series about Superman’s cousin and fellow refugee from the planet Krypton. The panel  also revealed how they pull off superhero-sized effects on a television budget and production timeline.

Both panels featured a Q&A session where the panelists answered audience questions about the processes utilized to make ordinary human actors seem super-powered.

See full video from these discussions in the gallery below.

About Team Captain America: Civil War:

VFX 2016


VFX Seminar 0916Directors Anthony Russo & Joe Russo
Anthony and Joe Russo have produced and directed many critically acclaimed TV shows, including Arrested Development, Community, and Happy Endings. They received an Emmy for helming Arrested Development’s pilot episode. The Russo Brothers recently directed 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier and this year’s Captain America: Civil War, which opened to overwhelming critical and fan praise. They’re currently hard at work on the next two Avengers films, set for release in May 2018 and May 2019. The Russo Brothers joined the DGA in 2001.

VFX Seminar 09161st AD Lars P. Winther
A DGA member since 1995, Lars P. Winther’s film industry career spans over 24 years and 50 productions, covering all genres of films. In addition to Captain America: Civil War, his resume includes the features The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Ant-Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2.

VFX Seminar 0916VFX Supervisor Dan DeLeeuw
Visual effects supervisor Dan DeLeeuw’s work on the film Captain America: The Winter Soldier earned him an Academy Award nomination in the category of Best Visual Effects. His other visual effects credits include: The Rock, Reign of Fire, The Skeleton Key, Night at the Museum, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, and Iron Man 3.

VFX Seminar 0916ILM VFX Supervisor Russell Earl
Since joining the ranks of ILM in 1994 as a technical assistant on Casper, Russell Earl has contributed to a number of blockbuster hits including Mission: Impossible III and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. In 2007, he was nominated for Academy Awards for his work on Michael Bay’s first installment of the Transformers saga and for his work on J.J. Abram’s Star Trek reboot.
VFX Seminar 0916Stunt Supervisor Sam Hargrave
With a dozen years’ experience, Hargrave’s work as a stunt performer can be seen in The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. His stunt coordinating credits include The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and 2, and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. A DGA member since 2015, Hargrave has worked as a 2nd Unit Director on The Accountant, Suicide Squad (additional photography) and The Coldest City.
VFX Seminar 0916VFX Producer Jen Underdahl
Underdahl began her career building practical miniatures and props for films like Jon Favreau’s Zathura: A Space Adventure and Roland Emmerich’s The Day After Tomorrow. Since making the move into digital effects, she has been visual effects producer on such projects as Gore Verbinski’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and Clint Eastwood’s Flags of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima. She is also serving in that capacity for the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War films, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo.

About Team Supergirl:

VFX Seminar 0916


VFX Seminar 0916Director Glen Winter
Winter started his career as a filmloader on Mark Rydell’s Intersection and has worked on several films as a camera operator. Since seguing to the director’s chair, in addition to his work on Supergirl he has helmed multiple episodes of series such as Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Smallville. A DGA member since 2015, he also directed the pilots for Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow.

VFX Seminar 0916UPM Gabriela Vázquez
A former DGA trainee, Vázquez has worked on several VFX intensive features including Barry Sonnenfeld’s Men in Black series, Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are, and Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s DGA Award-winning feature The Revenant. In addition to the Supergirl pilot, she also served as UPM on series such as Battle Creek, Super Fun Night, Mr. Sunshine, and The Tick. Vázquez joined the DGA in 1987.

VFX Seminar 09161st AD Scott Schaeffer
After launching his career as a production assistant for projects such as Harold Ramis’ Analyze This and Barry Levinson’s Liberty Heights, Schaeffer joined the DGA in 1999 and served as a 2nd AD on The Sopranos. He later transitioned to a 1st AD and since then has worked on series such as Studio Sixty on the Sunset Strip, Big Love, True Blood, Enlightened, and The Newsroom.

VFX Seminar 09162nd Unit Director/VFX Supervisor Armen Kevorkian
As a member of Deluxe Entertainment’s Encore VFX team, Kevorkian simultaneously oversees VFX for three DC Universe primetime series: The Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow. In addition to directing 2nd Unit on several episodes from these shows, he has also directed episodes of The Flash. His VFX resume also includes series such as Banshee, Homeland, Ray Donovan, Alias, as well the Star Trek series Enterprise, Voyager, and Deep Space Nine. Kevorkian joined the DGA in 2014.

About the Moderator:

VFX Seminar 0916AD/UPM VFX/Digital Technology Committee Member David Sanger
Working behind the camera since he was 11 years old, Sanger has over 25 years of experience coordinating, managing and line-producing visual effects units on some of the largest scope live-action effects films of all time including such Oscar-winning titles as Martin Scorsese’s The Departed and Hugo, Christopher Nolan’s Inception and Interstellar, and Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. Sanger is also the lead content producer for the Stan Winston School of Character Arts, an online school for creature creators, and is currently producing live-action VR shorts for The Gates Notes, the blog of Bill Gates. He joined the DGA in 2008.

About the Committee:

VFX Seminar 0916AD/UPM VFX/Digital Technology Committee
The Committee evaluates technical craft innovations and new management systems and their relationship to the production process, and keeps members well versed and up-to-date on the technologies of the 21st Century via periodic special events. The Committee is chaired by UPM Susan Zwerman and co-chaired by UPM Brian Frankish, Co-Chair. The Committee’s members are: Dustin Bernard, Steve Danton, D. Scott Easton, Rick Feder, Billy Greenfield, Mark Hansson, Jules Kovisars, Cleve Landsberg, Larry Lerner, Rosemary Marks, Steve Molen, Dennis Murphy, John Rago, David Sanger, Randy Turrow, and Jonathan Zimmerman.

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