Notes on the VFX featurettes on the home entertainment release for ‘The Suicide Squad’.
Hey, and welcome to ‘Fxtras’! It’s a whole new series on befores & afters that looks at behind the scenes featurettes for films and TV shows, especially the ones that pop up on home entertainment releases. For years, I collected DVDs and Blu-rays just for these featurettes, which often included footage and discussion you couldn’t find anywhere else. Then, for a time, these featurettes didn’t seem to be so great, partly because the bts pieces often played instead online, or were never made at all.
I now feel, however, that behind the scenes featurettes are BACK! There’s been a run of great ones, many in physical media releases and some online. So, I’m going to watch them, and give you a heads up on what’s in them, especially when they relate to special and visual effects. Sometimes I might even jump back to some old ones!
First up is James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. It’s a film where no visual effects coverage was generally allowed upon release (ie. you won’t find any at befores & afters). Luckily, the two-disc Blu-ray has a bunch of special features, including specific ones on King Shark and Starro.
Bringing King Shark to Life
This is a 5 min featurette about the design, on-set shooting and VFX for King Shark. Actor Steve Agee performed the character during live-action photography wearing a ‘displacement’ gray suit and a head-piece, complete with some ping pong ball markers, to provide the volume for King Shark, with Sylvester Stallone ultimately providing the final voice. We see a lot of b-roll footage, some early concepts and VFX turntables here, which are fun to watch. Overall VFX supervisor Kelvin McIlwain is interviewed, as is SFX supervisor Dan Sudick who mentions the head gear and practical feet sometimes used during filming. James Gunn also notes that he normally uses motion reference as opposed to motion capture for the anthropomorphic creatures in his films, since humans are not really the shape of the creature, but serve as great reference for the VFX teams.
It’s all very brief, as these things can be. And there’s no mention of Framestore which crafted the final CG King Shark. Still, a fun look behind the scenes seeing as there hasn’t been much published about the King Shark work out there at all.
Starro: It’s a Freakin’ Kaiju!
The film’s huge final set-piece features the giant alien starfish Starro wreaking havoc. In this 6 min featurette, we get to see behind the scenes of the shoot and CG design and build. Weta Digital visual effects supervisor Guy Williams is interviewed on set, and one cool thing he shows is an iPad running an AR tool so that the filmmakers can compose scenes of the huge starfish into backgrounds. Later there’s also some on-set shots of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn filming bluescreen set-piece moments when she goes into Starro’s eyeball.
There’s a bunch of other featurettes on the Blu-ray, including another look at the Jotunheim climax and a scene breakdown of the opening beach attack. Don’t miss, too, Gunn’s commentary in which he mentions many aspects of making the film.
You can buy the Blu-ray here.
Thanks to Matt Estela for suggesting the name ‘Fxtras’.