Let’s talk about those crazy ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ warp shots



A stand-out moment in James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 occurs when Yondu, Kraglin, Rocket and Baby Groot jump through several space portals causing their faces to warp and distend in almost grotesque ways.

Trixter pulled off the scenes by re-creating photoreal digital doubles of Yondu (Michael Rooker) and Kraglin (Sean Gunn) while also deforming 3D models of Rocket and Groot, to hilarious effect. Trixter visual effects supervisor Alessandro Cioffi breaks down the work in this series of images.

As we were being briefed by [overall visual effects supervisor] Christopher Townsend on the sequence, I must admit it was a tiny bit intimidating. These were close-ups of well-known actors, one of which is the brother of the director James Gunn! So creating a digi-double of these two actors was definitely a challenge.
We replicated their performances first, one to one. So we had the actors from the plates. We had to re-create digitally the performance, without any difference whatsoever. Once this was done, we then lit and rendered and composited them to make replica in a digital form from the neck up – then we started playing with the deformation.
The performance was based on a system of blend shapes. We’re talking only about four or five shots, and time was against us, so we preferred building the blend shapes and keyframe animating to replicate the performance. Then we started playing with the deformation. At first, it starts very gently and ramps up to the very end of the sequence, where they go really deformed and wild, almost crazy.
Our animation supervisor Simone Kraus and the animators came up with this crazy solution and I thought Marvel and Chris were not going to go for it. But James Gunn was so amused that he wanted to push on the craziness. In fact, you see Yondu go really grotesque in his shapes – he becomes almost fluid or rubbery. We also added in some soft tissue simulation around the cheeks and ears to make it appear less stiff.