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As Marvel’s Guardians Of the Galaxy Vol. 3 opens in theaters, visual effects supervisor Stephane Ceretti remembers the “very emotional” final day of shooting with the cast, crew and director James Gunn. “We were all finishing the last few scenes and saying goodbye to everybody. We were all crying like babies on the last day,” he says in a new episode of The Hollywood Reporter‘s Behind the Screen podcast. “We had so much fun shooting it, and we had so much fun and so much sadness at the end.”
It was late in postproduction that Gunn was named co-chair and co-CEO of DC Films, but Ceretti said the director never missed a beat on Guardians. “That’s his baby. He’s been wanting to do this movie for a while and it’s so important for him. We had full access to him,” says longtime Marvel collaborator Ceretti, a two-time Oscar nominee for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange. “With the vendors, especially with Weta for the final battle, he was there all the time.”
The ambitious third movie in the franchise, which centers on Rocket’s past, involved a whopping 3,066 visual effects shots, spread across roughly 10 VFX companies including Framestore, Weta FX and Crafty Apes.
Meticulous character animation was critical as the evolution of Rocket, who as “the heart of the movie,” needed to be realistic and emotive. “There’s a lot of closeups in this film. We opened the movie with a very extreme closeup of the eyes of the baby [Rocket] raccoon, and then we transitioned to [grown] Rocket,” Ceretti says of their CG Rocket, one of many CG characters in the movie, which also included “badass” Groot and new characters. “It was so important that we get that detail correct [for instance] the wetness in the eyes, all these things, seeing almost the tear ducts.”
“They have eyes that are really black, really dark, and you don’t see the white that much,” he adds of raccoons. “Most of the time when they look around, they just turn their heads. They don’t really look around with their eyes as much as humans do.” He remembers the VFX team studying raccoons in creating the character–and even has a picture of Gunn holding a baby critter.
The VFX supervisor discusses additional challenges to the VFX work including a two-minute long oner that appears during one of the action sequences. “We worked on it for almost a year in postproduction” he said of the shot, which was completed at Weta.
You can listen to the full conversation here:
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