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Iron Man 3

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Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy's hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him.

Method’s VFX Supervisor Matt Dessero oversaw more than 80 shots comprising of several key sequences including the destruction of a large water tower, the Extremis effect, CG water, plant regeneration, the opening of the Iron Patriot suit and numerous green screen comps.


The plot involves the Extremis Project devising a serum that, once injected into a subject, begins to glow from within, giving the recipient the power to superheat whatever receives his attention. Method was tasked with adding this effect during a sequence when the Iron Patriot suit is the subject of the villain Killian’s super powered energy. The villain, played by Guy Pearce, glows to the point of almost burning up from within.

Method received a cyberscan of Killian from the production team, from which the CG character was built and rigged. Each shot started with a tight camera track and once the tracks, model and rig were approved, the VFX team began matchmoving the actors’ performance to the model. The majority of the shots requiring Extremis in this sequence were medium shots and required full facial tracking. The richness of the glowing effect, which was an important part of the aesthetic, was achieved from individual components that included an internal glow occluded by the bones and vascular system.


During this sequence, an evil henchman uses his Extremis powers to heat and melt one of the legs of a large water tower, which results in it's collapse. The tower is fully CG, with around 75% of the water seen in the shots coming from large dump tanks shot on set. The rest of the water, along with debris, needed to be created digitally.

The overhead hero shot is 100% CG and required water flowing under camera and from the cracked tank. Detail was added to the water in the form of whitewash foam/aeration, mist and splashes. The water interacts with all objects in the environment, and actually causes pallets to shift. Fine ice crystals were added blowing in the air, and snow clumps fall from the collapsed water tower as the tank comes to rest. Hot glowing embers can be seen rising from the heated girder in the distance. It was this attention to detail by the VFX team which ensures that that shot looks completely believable.


The Method crew were excited to work on shots involving the iconic Iron Man suit. The Iron Patriot model had a lot of moving parts for both the exterior and interior and rigging these pieces required close collaboration between the modeling, rigging and animation departments.

Animation began with a camera track and matchmove of the character Rhodey’s performance as he leaps from the suit. The VFX crew initially roughed out the timing with very few simple exterior shapes for the helmet, chest, arms and legs, so that the opening flow and feel of animation was purposeful. 

Dessero comments: "Making sure the Iron Patriot felt heavy was the director’s primary concern; he never wanted the suit to feel flimsy. This heft was achieved in many ways, which included adding reverberation each time a large piece opened; we also stiffened the joints to limit arm and leg sway. Once the primary animation was approved, we scoured more of the suit, added more movable geometry to both the interior and exterior, thus adding complexity to the suit opening effect."

He concludes: "The Method team delivered some technically challenging and beautiful work throughout this project. It was an honor to be part of Iron Man 3 - one of the best loved series from Marvel."


  • Characters
  • FX
  • Hard surface
  • Compositing
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