vfx_shot: Taking flight


MPC CG supervisor James Rustad details the visual effects required for Angel and Archangel’s wings in X-Men: Apocalypse.

For shots where the actor (Ben Hardy) had a leather jacket on, we had to completely add feathered wings onto him. We didn’t have to worry about the joint points as much because of the jacket. But after Apocalypse transforms his wings from feather to metal, he’s naked from the waist up so we had to do a full 3D build of him and blend it in. We had a complex system where we could morph the skin wings into metal wings and plate them in this fractal growing technique. It was probably the most technically complex shots in that sequence.

In our animation rig, we just had polygon versions of the feathers which were textured. We did our cloth dynamics on those polygon feathers for a little bit of lag and bend. At render time we would swap those polygon feathers for a fully groomed feather where every part of the feather including the spine and quill is a procedural element. They’re wrapped back to the polygon to take on all of that cloth movement.

– James Rustad