Framestore was brought on board to help the filmmakers visualise Doctor Strange’s odd, mystical abilities throughout the movie. ‘Doctor Strange is the master of the dark arts; it’s unconventional and quite psychedelic but very visually interesting’, says VFX Supervisor Mark Wilson.
Framestore worked on over 365 shots encapsulating a range of VFX and animation work that spanned environments, the complex ‘Mandlebrotting’ of sets, incredibly high resolution digi-doubles of key characters and the creation of Doctor Strange’s astral form where he exists in another plane, still in the real world although not visible to humans.
The Mandlebrot sets within the film are dream-like, kaleidoscopic interior shots which fold the environments, pulling them apart and re-configuring in complicated patterns around the characters. ‘The effect was quite difficult to nail down, as to how far we should go with it’, says Wilson. ‘Especially when our live-action characters had to be integrated within those scenes.’ Because of the quantity of movement within the whole set, nearly everything needed to be animated; even if the team didn’t strictly need to animate a prop, they had to make it available to the animators in case certain surrounding elements within the scene needed to move in a different way.
‘As the film went on, we got a real feel for the world that Doctor Strange is living in, and the effects started to flow’, says Wilson. The film’s imagery and storyline belong in Marvel’s world, but the tone is unique in its use of magic and dark arts, illusion and mystery – fascinating elements which made it a joy and new challenge for the Framestore team. The approach to making the film, however, was the same as always: collaborate, and work at it until it is as good as it can be.
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