‘These were the amazing tools that we had at our disposal and got to use’

What the VFX supe on ‘Quantumania’ liked so much about having StageCraft and a range of other tools on the film.

befores & afters has already published a few pieces on the visual effects of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania with production VFX supervisor Jesse James Chisholm, including looks at the fun characters M.O.D.O.K and Veb.

For our final piece with Chisholm, we asked him about the on-set shoot, specifically the use of ILM’s StageCraft tech for running LED wall imagery during filming. ILM’s visual effects supervisors on the film were Russell Earl and Malcolm Humphreys, and ILM’s StageCraft virtual production supervisor was Ian Milham.

One of the main benefits Chisholm saw with StageCraft was immersing the actors into the action. “For example,” he says, “we did the scene where Scott and Cassie fall down to the bluffs. I got to have the sun creature on a kind of remote gun and give them an eyeline and light them. And as they stopped and looked, I could stop and give them the chance to be organic instead of me there with a laser pointer or a tennis ball. It was such a joy to have those kinds of tools like StageCraft at my fingertips.”

Another aspect of StageCraft that Chisholm took advantage of was dealing with scale. “We could scale the world down around Scott at a specific speed so that it looked like he was scaling up in real-time in-camera. It gave us something to frame for. It gave something to reach and grab for. And again, you couldn’t do that anywhere else. It was super exciting to be able to do that.”

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On the set.

StageCraft was of course just one tool the filmmakers had at their disposal to help imagine the Quantum Realm. A number of special effects rigs were designed by special effects supervisor Paul Corbould to stand in for ants or even the trilobites ridden by Michelle Pfeiffer, Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas’ characters. “I mean, we had them on saddles riding a six-axis gimbal that were inside the Volume,” marvels Chisholm put together in the Volume.You’ll never see that again.”

“And then I used a tool from The Third Floor called Cyclops because so much of our third act was this complex weave of Scott’s over here fighting one thing, Cassie is here with M.O.D.O.K, Evangeline was somewhere else. I had an iPad and I could look around the city and say, ‘Okay, Scott’s over there,’ and you could see him fighting and doing that in the back. Then Cassie knew where her eye line was supposed to be. And same with Evangeline. I don’t know any other way that we could have done that.”

Similarly, the earlier restaurant scene relied on StageCraft to place actors in an environment and even show the arrival of Krylar’s ship. Says Chisholm: “You could see the ship come at them and land in front of them in camera, and you can’t beat that. They all have the same eyeline. They’re all seeing the same thing. They’re all getting lit the same way. These were the amazing tools that we had at our disposal and got to use.”

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