Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Kelly Port Interview: ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ VFX
“We knew from the beginning that this was going to be very big and very special,” says “Avengers: Infinity War” visual effects supervisor Kelly Port. The effects veteran knew he had his work cut out for him with this highly anticipated superhero epic. Watch our exclusive video interview with Port and fellow VFX supervisors Dan DeLeeuw and Russell Earl above.
Perhaps the greatest challenge for the effects team was creating the character of Thanos (Josh Brolin), a hulking purple baddie hell-bent on wiping out half the universe’s population by gathering the powerful Infinity Stones. DeLeeuw and his team wanted to incorporate as much of Brolin’s features as possible into the original Marvel design of the character. “A lot of those early illustrations were balancing how much of Josh Brolin’s face you actually feel in Thanos’s face,” he explains. They hoped to capture “very minute details and changes” from Josh’s performance in order to “feel what he was feeling.”
But their work extended far beyond Thanos into several different areas of the production, including art direction. One example of that was Wakanda, the Sub-Saharan African kingdom first glimpsed in “Black Panther,” but which Earl reveals was mostly shot on “a horse farm in Atlanta.” Building upon an already existing set, they were able to recreate that world down to the smallest details, from “the blades of grass to the trees populating the jungle.”
DeLeeuw and Earl previously received Oscar bids for their work on another Marvel Cinematic Universe film, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014). Earl also competed for “Transformers” (2007) and “Star Trek” (2009). Port contended at the Visual Effects Society Awards for “We Own the Night” (2007) and “Maleficent” (2014). Now all three are working on the eagerly awaited Marvel finale “Avengers: Endgame” (2019).