It's not difficult to deduce that a lot of special effects went into the making of Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War, but the actual process that brings the unreal to life in genre movies tends to remain a mystery for most fans. With this "Show and Tell Reel" from visual effects producer Framestore, scenes the blockbuster's first act are broken down and explored from the ground up.
Some elements of the film were obvious VFX requirements, like the giant ring-shaped Q-Ship that hovered over New York City in the first attack on Earth by the Black Order. But Framestore's video reveals that Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian themselves were animated as well, not to mention some of the heroes, and even the world around them.
With a team of 160 artists, Framestore completed 253 shots for the movie's calamitous opening act. Patric Roos, the VFX supervisor, said the work they did "was a real mix of full CG shots, plate shots, FX, set extensions, magic spells and a lot of character work.’
In one scene, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is seen walking into a chaotic street full of vehicles and pedestrians running from the alien ship: The VFX reel deconstructs this moment with a wipe transition, showing that the actors and cars are real. However, there's a blue screen behind them instead of the New York environment, which was shot over the course of a month and recreated in CG so that Thanos' minions had free rein to smash it to pieces.
The most remarkable feat of the special effects might be the way the characters and their costumes are integrated. Like some of the non-human characters in previous Marvel Cinematic Universe films, the invading aliens were created through computer graphics, with painstaking attention paid to each detail and expression so that they can blend in with the setting and interact with actors.
Even the more familiar faces have had some heavy support from the FX team. When Tony becomes Iron Man, he's showcasing his newest armor for the first time, with its nanotechnology that allows the individual particles to wrap around his body. Layers of animation went into the "bleeding edge," and to Iron Man's movement once he was suited up. Peter Parker (Tom Holland) had an equally flashy new incarnation as the Iron Spider, and we even see some of the work put into the independently mobile Cloak of Levitation worn by Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch).
Going behind the scenes might take away some of the mystery out of the final product, but it's also a way to expand the universe that Marvel has created. There are countless stories in the technology and artistry employed to bring fans the most realistic superheroes and alien invasions possible.