Four months before they began production, Marvel approached Perception to collaborate on their highly anticipated sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The team started early conceptual design development of a wide range of scenes, ranging from Nick Fury’s in-car HUD (Heads-Up-Display) as seen in a high-speed car chase, to the reincarnation of an old Captain America villain Arnim Zola.
Perception’s designers began by creating a number of futuristic, yet realistic, ideas for this intricate interface, and created a wide array of designs that reflected those ideas while being mindful of the necessary story points this system would need to communicate.
Once a direction was chosen, the next step was to start building the key aspects of the interface that would need to relay the information Nick Fury interacted with as he tried to defend himself against his pursuers.
Once the framework for each aspect of the interface was in place, the team began experimenting with the most dynamic ways to animate and illustrate them. The key storytelling points that needed to be created were a diagnostic overview of Nick Fury’s vehicle, a medical monitoring device, and a navigation system that were all seamlessly integrated into the windshield of Fury’s SUV.
“All I can say about it is that I was pleased to be brought back. I thought I might be – because you’d know better than I do – but Zola finds a way to defeat time,” said Toby Jones. “You won’t be disappointed with the way that’s been treated in this film.”
The initial brief was to re-imagine the digitally encoded persona and spirit of the expired Arnim Zola. His conscience was digitized into miles of magnetic tape and digital storage files. Using antiquated technology, the computer system struggles to reincarnate his likeness onto multiple screens to deliver a terrifying message to Captain America and Black Widow.
In order to bring Zola into the modern age, it was essential to look to the past. Marvel supplied a wealth of reference showcasing different artist’s interpretations of the character from the last 30 plus years. This entire legacy helped guide Perception in their design process.
Perception approached the design with two ideas in place. What limitations does this technology have and how can one use those limitations to help create the character? Like everything in the Marvel Universe, technology always needs to be a few years ahead of reality, and even though Zola would have been created decades ago, he still needed to be ahead of his time. After an extensive design process resulting in over 140 different iterations, Zola’s design was finally achieved.
Footage of Toby Jones was an integral part of the process. While the final result is a paired down version of his performance, the footage was used for specific cues in his movement. It was also important to emphasize how difficult it is for Zola to create his image on such obsolete technology. To achieve this, the team combined fluctuations in digital and analog distortion, as well as changes to his resolution throughout the entire scene.
It was a privilege to work very closely with the Directors and the Executives at Marvel on creating an original sequence that is not only a major storytelling component for the film, but for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe as well.
The initial round of exploration consisted of boards and several edits that conveyed the tone and pacing of the story that needed to be told.
The next phase of the process involved refining designs and further building upon the idea that the story is being told through archival photographs and footage.
Perception was tasked with designing and compositing a variety of screens and scenes emphasizing key plot points throughout the film.
This was an extraordinarily collaborative process between Perception and the entire Marvel team, from the VFX department to the directors, editor, producers, and top executives! Perception is extremely proud of the work on Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Click here for more info on the movie! Be sure to stay tuned as the saga continues with Captain Americas’ return in Captain America: Civil War, being unleashed 2016.