In our next installment of our series highlighting 2015's Oscar nominees for Best Visual Effects, we look at Guardians of the Galaxy, one of three VFX nominees featuring characters from the all-conquering Marvel Universe.
Ever since Disney bought Marvel, the venerable comics company with nearly a century of characters and storylines under its belt, the Marvel brand has been seemingly everywhere, as the House of Mouse re-introduces even little-known comic book heroes to today's entertainment audience. Thankfully, the capabilities of VFX artists are much greater than eariler days of comic adaptations and, as viewers, we get the sense that we're finally seeing something onscreen that resembles the comic creators' visions for thier stories.
Each of the last two years, a Marvel-branded film has been nominated for the Best Visual Effects Oscar (2012's Marvel's Avengers and 2013's Iron Man 3). This year, three of the five nominated films feature Marvel characters: Captain America: Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Guardians of the Galaxy. Prior to this summer, you would be right to note that one of these titles does not fit the others. Guardians of the Galaxy wasn't a very popular comic, even in its heyday, yet somehow Disney was able to transform the title into the surprise hit of the year.
A compelling story, good actors and writing, as well as James Gunn's direction, are all part of the winning formula, but it would be difficult to imagine the film without its impressive visual effects on display throughout. In such a large VFX film, the various tasks were portioned out to many companies, including Framestore (responsible for 600 shots in the film including everyone's favorite Racoon), MPC (responsible for Groot, space battles and more) and Method Studios.
VFX Supervisors Jonathan Fawkner and Nicolas Aithadi led their teams at Framestore and MPC, respectively, while Greg Steele handled Method Studio's contributions, which can be viewed in the VFX breakdown vid below.