During the winter of 2017, Marvel Studios enlisted us once again, to conceptualize technology for the 2018 blockbuster Ant-Man and the Wasp. Director Peyton Reed and the Marvel Studios team were looking for a way to visualize a crucial piece of technology for the film— and asked our team to apply their futuristic vision to the challenge. The result is a dramatic display that not only plays a pivotal role in the story, but emphasizes the characters connection to technology and the playful qualities of the film as a whole.
The Quantum Locator is a tool used by Hank Pym and Scott Lang in an attempt to track down Janet Van Dyne — Hank’s wife who has been hopelessly lost in the Quantum Realm. The team at Marvel Studios had envisioned the Quantum Locator as a massive array of displays, providing us a unique canvas to work with.
Quantum Locator: Final Scene
We started by curating an audit of relevant technologies and concepts — ranging from scientific principals to the aesthetics of hacker culture. This allowed our creative team to quickly hone in on general themes that aligned with the filmmakers intent and expectations, while also introducing them to approaches not previously considered.
We quickly moved into illustrating various concepts, presented as style frames. These images were used to give the filmmakers an early sense of how these elements could appear on-screen in the final film, and if nothing else spur some strong conversations about what feels appropriate for the film. These approaches ranged from compositions that resembled alien technologies, to low-fi technology repurposed, hacked and combined to perform new functions.
Early Motion Study
While several options were initially considered, we began to focus on a direction based on a unique layout of segmented LCD displays — not unlike the digital displays seen on an alarm clock, microwave, or VCR. This aesthetic felt exceptionally technical and raw — perfect for a team of tinkerers and makers, and also tied into the basic themes of seeing small items at a massive scale.
These segmented displays are embedded into interlocking panels, each recalibrating their positions as the the LCD’s cycle. Our heroes adjust the coordinates and the flickering display begins its hunt for Janet Van Dyne in the quantum realm.
From the start, our team put a big emphasis on how this unusual display could still convey its function and help tell the story, even without traditional or literal on-screen messages. The sequence begins with a massive number of cycling coordinates. Eventually, the display goes from flickering chaos, to controlled order, giving the sense that the heroes have found their needle in a haystack.
We are always thrilled to collaborate with the super talented group at Marvel Studios, and particularly enjoy the opportunities like this to present technology in a way never seen before on screen. It is a testament to Marvel Studios respect for science, technology and engineering. The studio always pushes for tremendous depth and detail in the elements that are often afterthoughts in other films.