Since this is NYC Production and Post News, I thought I would share this video from ILM; it gives a glimpse into some of the techniques they used to recreate New York City for their blockbuster picture The Avengers directed by Joss Whedon.
A lot of the film’s action takes place around Grand Central Station. It’s interesting to see how the company faithfully recreated many of the architectural details that really help to sell the believability of the location, for example the design of the cast iron rails.
It’s also cool to see the seamlessly merged green screen setups for the live action (shot in New Mexico) with CG set extensions. Nice job on the pyrotechnics as well. Check out the clever use of a motion control camera to help keep Captain America from getting burned by shooting his leap over the exploding bus in two passes, one for the actor, the other for the explosions.
IlM also did some very impressive (or should I say incredible) work on the Hulk which was one of the most complex CG characters ever built for the big screen.
Of course to build all the geometry for all the buildings would have been a massive task, so textures were extensively used. To do so, an amazing amount of photographs were shot day and night from cranes and rooftops all around the city. This was crucial since many of the shots were sweeping fly-bys across many city blocks.
Large databases of trees, awnings, cars, hydrants, mailboxes and even sandwich boards were created to populate the streets and make them look more believable. (If you want a bit of a technical explanation, check out this interview of ILM’s Jeff White.)
It’s often easy to overlook the incredible amounts of work that goes into making a large motion picture like The Avengers. Videos that share the background story like this one does are not only fun to watch, but inspiring.