The task of making sure the latest superhero blockbuster finished with a bang fell to Prologue Films, who provided an exciting, instantly appealing exploration of Iron Man’s suit.
Award-winning designer Danny Yount of Prologue Films took a retro approach for the stunning end credits for superhero movie Iron Man.
To a soundtrack of Black Sabbath, the sequence’s visual focus is the assembly of Iron Man’s armour, represented by a 3D schematic.
Swift, smooth camera moves are juxtaposed with jittery camera work, and a gritty overlay of graphical artefacts add interest to the clean line-art animation.
“Originally, a photo-real approach had been proposed for the sequence,” says Yount. “But I wanted to avoided this because I feel that main titles can stand on their own and not have to look like the film.
"I also thought that with a story based on a comic book, it was OK to explore illustrative techniques that are less serious.”
Photo-real 3D can also have creative drawbacks says Yount. “When we did The Invasion’s title sequence it was fun at first, but then we all became very weighed down with intensive renders and compositing.
"To me that can become very constraining creatively. This project, in contrast, was a fun and rewarding process." To convince director Jon Favreau of the advantages of this approach, Yount skipped a storyboard in favour of a motion test.
Working from footage of last scene of the film supplied by the production crew, he made a 20-second motion test in After Effects that transitioned the film’s footage into line-art animation.
Favreau liked it so much, says Yount, that he requested that the Prologue team create a similar look for the computer interface visual effects in the film itself.
Yount worked with animator Ilya Abulhanov on the look of the sequence, alongside animators DongHo Lee and Dave Rindner. Designer Alex Hanson helped create the sequence’s video effects. The 3D model of the Iron Man armour was supplied by ILM.
“It was the best I’ve ever seen,” says Yount. “It was incredibly detailed and great fun to work with. Layer after layer provided so much detail and opportunity for good animation.”
The most time-consuming part of the project was hand-animating the suit, recalls Yount. “We could have used dynamics to explode the suit but instead chose to manually move each individual part as it offered lots of control. I also vibrated the camera instead of using a CameraShake plug-in. With that technique, the scenes had real camera parallax,” he explains.
“Viewing it in the cinema, it was exciting to watch people applaud after it was over,” says Yount. “Usually people leave during end credits, but in my neck of the woods most stay to watch it, so I felt that we did our job.
“There are always things you can improve, but if I can get most of it right then I’m happy and not afraid to celebrate that,” he adds. “If you can’t enjoy what you do then you need to find a different line of work!”
Project: End credits for Iron Man
Client: Jon Favreau, Paramount Pictures
Studio: Prologue Film, prologuefilms.com
Software: Adobe After Effects, Apple Shake, Autodesk Maya, Mental Image, MentalRay
On the CD: You can view the sequence on this month’s cover disc.