Cantina Creative becomes chronological with "Loki" VFX

Cantina Creative becomes chronological with "Loki" VFX

Cantina Creative, the Los Angeles-based design studio and VFX, has revealed that it has designed, animated and composed a wide range of compelling time-travel story point graphics for its 17th Marvel Cinematic Universe title. Loki.

Loki features the God of Evil in a new Disney + series from Marvel Studios that takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Tom Hiddleston returns as the title character and is joined by Owen Wilson, Wunmi Mosaku, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sophia Di Martino and other A-list talents. Kate Herron directs and Michael Waldron is lead writer.

The series sees Loki recruited by the Minutemen of the Time Variance Authority (TVA). Marked as a "variant" - someone who interrupts the flow of the "Sacred Timeline" - Loki embarks on a mission that pits him against various versions of himself on a time-hopping adventure across the universe.

Winery Creative Design Supervisor Andrew Hawryluk, Special Effects Supervisor Tony Lupoi, and Producer Donna Cullen worked directly with Marvel Studios Visual Effects Supervisors Dan DeLeeuw and David Allen and Special Effects Producer Allison Paul to provide 172 filming in 33 sequences in six episodes of Loki.

The Cantina team operated from familiar ground, having previously partnered with DeLeeuw and Paul on Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War e Avengers: Endgame. Cantina also recently provided story-based VFX sequences for WandaVision and Thand Falcon and The Winter Soldier, which aired earlier this year on Disney +.

Stephen Lawes, Cantina's co-founder and creative director, explained that Marvel provided the concept art preview and creative direction. “The Cantina was initially commissioned to design and animate numerous screens that would play a key visual role in TVA's time travel story in a number of episodes,” said Lawes. "These included the TemPad handheld devices used by Minutemen to detect deviations from the sacred timeline that display critical graphic and diagnostic information ranging from places and time periods to threat levels and give them the ability to travel through time."

The studio also created content that appears on the numerous monitors and time monitors located throughout the TVA command center that visually displays the actual timeline. Preliminary efforts also included hologram designs for advertisements that appear on monitors throughout the Roxxcart superstore and its CCTV security feeds.

Il Loki The creative brief quickly expanded to include designs for a series of elaborate holographic projections showing variations of Loki to illustrate different periods in the character's history. Additionally, Cantina animated the display graphics for the futuristic quantum mineral shovels that help the Minutemen date their investigations into the chronology and one of the studio's most creatively inspiring findings: a series of transitional montages of amorphous sculptures that reveal the origins. of the TVA.

“Herron had a specific visual aesthetic in mind for Loki“Said Lawes. “We explored the range of what technology could realistically convey, designing production-ready assets that could consistently propagate across multiple timelines. For narrative consistency we opted for an overall low-fi, 8-bit, futuristic design language that was somewhat pixelated with a limited color palette.

Marvel's Loki (courtesy of Cantina Creative)

Hawryluk and his VFX team had creative leeway to design and animate a digital representation of the face for a large retro-looking robot with arms and a computer monitor for a head that Loki encounters in an elevator during his premiere. experience at TVA.

Cantina animated the oscilloscope design using Adobe After Effects and Illustrator. “It was an anachronistic depiction of a human face very similar to a Tamagotchi giving a reaction. When he greets you, he smiles, when he doesn't understand he makes a confused face, ”Hawryluk added.

Another challenging scene required creating a series of hologram timeline images and transitions depicting more variations of Loki that the Minutemen were looking for. These forms of Loki as a soccer player, Loki as a bodybuilder, Loki the Asgardian, etc., were displayed on Mobius's (Owen Wilson) TemPad and projected as visual aides for the storytelling.

Cantina worked with several Loki costumes and other 2D design resources provided by the production art department such as Photoshop illustrations. “Using After Effects, we animated and traced all the final shots involving the holograms and composed them in the final scene so that they felt as if they were floating in 3D space,” observed Lupoi.


Marvel's Loki (courtesy of Cantina Creative)

In the crucial series finale, audiences are introduced to He Who Remains (HWR), the commander of the TVA. A team of artists from Side Effects Houdini navigated a complex four-minute sequence that reveals the character's backstory as he transforms an unknown material from a solid substance to an amorphous substance and back again numerous times over different time periods.

“Conceptualizing the HWR sequence was tricky as we didn't know the exact poses and props the tableaus would interact with,” explained Lupoi. “This required updating the poses, changing the way some props were represented and the art directed the marble veins of the models to highlight some of the more iconic aspects of the props such as the TVA timeline, TemPad and batons. TVA ".

Hawryluk added: “We were challenged to get the behavior of Houdini particle simulations just to make sure they had properties of both solids and liquids. Exporting EXR from Houdini allowed us to integrate on-set lighting and CG renderings when it came time for compositing. ”

"Cantina enjoys a long-standing creative partnership with Marvel, providing VFX troubleshooting capabilities for numerous big-screen titles dating back to the Iron man 3Cushing said. "With Marvel making such high-quality shows on Disney +, it's been thrilling to leverage our collective experiences of the MCU to help them tell stories for the small screen."

Loki is now available to stream on Disney +.

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