Movies
Published March 18, 2019

'Captain Marvel' VFX Supervisor On Going Binary, Shape-Shifting and Real Goose vs. Fake

Christopher Townsend walks Earth's Mightiest Show through how visual effects brought 'Captain Marvel' to life!

Captain Marvel

Marvel Studios' "Captain Marvel," in theaters now, has brought a lot of firsts onscreen—the first depiction of going full binary, the first depiction of Skrulls as well as their shapeshifting transformation, and the first depiction of a Flerken.Earth's Mightiest Show host Lorraine Cink had the opportunity to sit down with VFX Supervisor Christopher Townsend on how he and the visual effects department brought "Captain Marvel" to life between the Skrulls, Captain Marvel, and Goose the Cat himself.

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In the EMS special above, Christopher Townsend walked Lorraine through early concept art, practical lights and shooting techniques, and computer generated assets bridged the gap between reality and fantasy.

One of the most anticipated moments from "Captain Marvel" that was shown early on in a teaser for the film was the scene of Carol Danvers going full binary as Captain Marvel. Townsend revealed before they even began anything, they referred to the comic book source material as well as video games on how they wanted to approach the visual depiction. It was essential that the visual effects department could maintain directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's naturalistic feel to the film and root "Captain Marvel" in reality.

While lead star Brie Larson was on production for another film, they had her come in to capture her in crucial poses such as shooting her photon blasts and channeling her binary powers. Those photos and footage were brought into the computer so they could build a physical CG model of Brie that would match the real model (her real body).


Fun movie magic fact: the team created a bracelet of LED light panels for Brie to wear on her wrists/body so they could digitally replace or enhance her body but keep her face and the performance she's giving.

Then we delve deep into Talos’ transformation from Skull leader to surfer on the beach. We explore how the shots are matched, how to DP and VFX team coordinate, and how it’s all put together in post-production from concept to final film. And then everyone’s favorite furball, Goose the Cat, gets the VFX treatment to fill in where cat actors leave off. You’ll be shocked to learn which Goose is real and which one is VFX!!


The next scene Townsend gave a lengthy breakdown of was Talos and the Skrull's transformations on the beach. The directors collaborated with Ben Mendelsohn on how they shapeshifting performance. They knew that the transformation would take a lot of effort as it conveys a very physiological occurrence within the body. Where they arrived was an almost splitting apart of the body with the other character bursting out from within. How consuming was this particular scene? Townsend revealed they had one day to shoot, but once the artists began working on the effects, what you see onscreen is around version 350.

Lastly, the conversation shifted to the breakout character of the film—Goose the Cat!


How much of Goose was visual effects and how much of it were the cat actors? Reggie the Cat was their hero cat; however, there were four cats on set total. One was good for being held, another for sitting. Townsend revealed that two-thirds of the shoots were digital. Out of 100 or so Goose shots in the film, 70 of the shots were CG. Their main challenge was to match the shots so they could go from the real cat, to the CG cat, back to their live cat. Their job was to make sure they never took the audience out of the moment.

Watch the entire discussion on the visual effects movie magic above!

"Captain Marvel" is in theaters now! Get tickets on Fandango: http://fandango.com/captainmarvel

Stay tuned to Marvel.com, follow @CaptainMarvel on Twitter, and Like "Captain Marvel" on Facebook for the latest on "Captain Marvel."

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