If you asked anyone walking out the theaters after watching X-Men: Days of Future Past, "What was your favorite scene?" I think they'd probably all answer the same.
Quite early into the action, we get to see Quicksilver (Evan Peters) showing off his powers to the audience in a super-slow-motion-bullet-timey kitchen action scene. The set piece stands out for several reasons, primarily the incredible visuals but also the nice blend of humor and action.
The scene was certainly one of the more ambitious elements of the film and now fxguide has talked to Days of Future Past and Rising Sun Pictures VFX supervisors Richard Stammers, Tim Crosbie and Austin Bonang about how they captured the scene.
Bonang explained that just filming the scene with a live actor was the first issue. He explained:
Richard Stammers was concerned we’d have to do a digital double for a lot of the sequence, but I think we figured out how to do most of it with just the actor which was incredible. We got all the measurements from the sets and made sure there was enough space to do everything as intended. We’d start building the set in previs and then put a previs camera in there and we’d see that something was obstructing what we needed to see, so we were able to tell the set designer that the design might need to change slightly.
With previsualization in place, the actual physical photography can be informed on the various movements and beats that were needed in order to mesh in with the special effects. Stammers explains:
We started with super slow motion 3D Phantom photography at 3200 frames per second, so we could speed ramp to almost frozen and establish a live-action quality of the real sprinkler rain. We did substantial testing to hit the desired frame rate that ultimately was as fast as the Phantom could go while maintaining a 2K resolution. The stunt team also tested what would be effective to be seen at these speeds from self-punches to being hit by flying vegetables and air blasts. To maintain the light levels required for 3200 fps we used seven SoftSuns, which were integrated into the kitchen set build.
Yeah, most of that is gibberish to me, but it sure sounds impressive. So, with the background filmed in real time, Quicksilver himself could then be added via a green screen. Stammers continues:
For the front on shots, where we see Quicksilver on the wall, we shot him as a green screen element running on a treadmill. We used the stereo Phantom rig to get close-up shots shooting at 250 frames per second to get a nice movement of wind blowing in his hair and rippling his face. Despite blasting his face with wind and rain none of this water showed up on camera so all the rain hitting his face is added as CG which required very detailed facial roto animation and complex fluid sims.
Throw in a few more CGI utensils, bullets and general detritus - and hey presto! You've got cinematic gold. Although this in itself is quite the task. Tim Crosbie explained:
Artists used it to create a detailed 3D model of the set to serve as a guide in the placement and choreography of CG assets, as a tracking tool, and for plotting lighting. There was a big emphasis at the outset on the design of the room — we needed to control and manage that world. We acquired principal photography reference of the set in depth, every counter, every prop, every situation, and from there we came up with a list of what we needed to build. The animation team ultimately built nearly 100 unique items for the sequence (many of which were employed multiple times), many developed from cyber scans and texture data derived from practical props and set pieces.
I remember when the first character posters for X-Men: Days of Future Past were released, a lot of people were quick to ridicule the appearance of Quicksilver. It seems after this single scene he might have earned his keep. It'll be interesting to see if his reception in Days of Future Past is what earned him an appearance in [X-Men: Apocalypse](movie:1194267). It also puts quite a bit of pressure on Aaron Taylor-Johnson's [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](movie:293035) performance as Marvel Studio's Quicksilver.
The X-Men: Days of Future Past special effects crew go into a lot more detail for this scene, as well as other special effect heavy scenes in the movie - such as Mystique's transformations, the Sentinels and Blink's portals - in the full fxguide article.
Now be honest with me. Have you changed your tune about Quicksilver? Were you disappointed with his initial reveal, but are now excited to see him return? Tell us below.
Have you changed your opinion of Quicksilver?