Even prior to the release of Avengers: Endgame, A concept art had confirmed that fans would see a new form of Hulk (Smart Hulk) similar to Professor Hulk from the comics. This new version of the Green Goliath wasn’t just a raging green beast but was also well aware since Bruce Banner had full consciousness and was in control. And surprisingly, the ends result of the character’s visual portrayal met fans’ expectations and wasn’t a goofy version of the superhero.
Recently, the team at Industrial Light and Magic explained in an interview with Comicbook.com about their process in creating a new facial capture system from the ground-up for Mark Ruffalo’s character. Though the team has worked on several VFX heavy movie projects–the character build for the 2000 pound green beast seemed much more complex since the end result required them to include a lot of facial structure similarities of Ruffalo.
In the interview, ILM’s Russell Earl and Bruce Holcomb broke down the process they went through in creating this new tech for this iteration of The Hulk.
“One of the things we knew we wanted to do in the beginning was to get a system in place that would give animation the ultimate control over the performance,” Earl says. “There’s the solve aspect where you’re solving the performance, then you’re taking that performance and you’re retargeting it onto the Smart Hulk model and then at that point, you’re getting it into animation where you have controls to basically help offer that performance. So we rewrote all three, or we used new tools for all three of those steps.”
The two went on the explain the three-step process involved in bringing this character to life and each one of those were newly crafted tools courtesy of ILM. First, it required the team to craft algorithms and equations needed for the sequence prior to the modeling team and they do their part of the job before animation steps in to take control.
“The solver generates the appropriate mesh, then the appropriate mesh must be translated into Hulk, but also at the same time because you’re getting this data because it’s a lot of math, you didn’t always have good animation controls over the system,” explains Earl. “In this case, you rewrote it so that animators would get a nice clean model that would allow them to dial in and out of Ruffalo’s performance so it could break up the polymers down to the shapes but then also have really solid control over it through a series of deformers.”
The team’s main goal was to build Smart Hulk sharing major facial similarities to Ruffalo and also doing justice to the actor’s performance during facial capture.
“All of these things that would help bring that performance to life, so we could stay true on model, stay true to Ruffalo’s performance,” he continues. “But at the same time, if you took his performance and you mapped it onto Smart Hulk or re-targeted onto Smart Hulk, it wouldn’t always feel right. The smile might feel too big and broad or he might look too goofy, so Ruffalo gave a very unique performance. We were capturing that, but at the same time being able to alter and control in animation.”
What did you like about Smart Hulk in Avengers: Endgame? Let us know in the comments below.
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