The fantastic technology in ‘WandaVision’


FRIEDRICHSDORF, GERMANY — The Disney+ series Wanda Vision was a hit, focusing on the MCU’s Wanda and Vision, followed by a number of other character-driven Marvel series on the streaming platform. Much has been said about the unique visual style of
Wanda Vision. However, not much has been said about one aspect of the show: the Fantastic User Interfaces (FUIs). Support the creation of these screens: Maxon’s Cinema 4D.

3D motion design artist Robyn Haddow was tasked with bringing the fantastic technology to life for viewers watching the series at home. FUI expert with a superhero resume, Haddow’s portfolio includes TV series such as The Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, as well as feature films including
The Suicide Squad, Black Widow, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man Homecoming and much more.

For WandaVision, Haddow worked with Los Angeles design and visual effects studio Cantina Creative to concept and execute several plot-critical fantasy technologies: in particular, the technology used by the disturbing organization SWORD (Sentient World Observation and Response Department). Set chronologically after the devastation and tragedy that occurred during Avengers: Endgame, the technology seen in WandaVision was to reflect the rebirth of the cinematic universe. That meant looking to past MCU films for inspiration for this next phase, as well as maintaining continuity by including material relevant to the fictional world.

When it came to developing the technology seen at SWORD HQ, Haddow wanted to make sure it showed off the unique combination of human and alien technology that was available to the characters. Haddow explains, “The technology was based entirely on a mashup of Kree (alien), Skrull (alien) and human militaristic style graphics. Under the creative direction of Stephen Lawes, co-owner of Cantina Creative, part of the design was to draw influence within the context of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe to include callbacks to different technologies seen in other works. Marvel without being too intrusive or out of place. ”

The technology used at SWORD’s headquarters included a multitude of interfaces, the centerpiece of which was the versatile light table used by the organization to visualize data extracted from the town of Westview. “The main technological challenge was this three-layered glass table which, during the design phase, had a hologram on top which was the centerpiece of the SWORD command center,” explains Haddow. “Glass has such unique properties and we were working with three stacked layers, we had to be sure that our design would clearly highlight key data points that were important to the plot while simultaneously displaying other less critical information for the plot.”

With Cinema 4D, Haddow was able to create a visual depicting complex fantasy technology, built in a way that was production-ready and flexible for art direction along the way. “Westview’s shape is a hexagon as displayed on the table. So I used the tiles inside the procedural noise system to create hexagonal textures, then layered them at different scales to create a sense of depth and complexity. Getting creative with shader layer masks allowed me to pull out important details and emphasize them according to the plot for the viewers.

Haddow concludes, “The great thing about Cinema 4D is that it’s easy to come up with ideas quickly to determine what works and what doesn’t work in a given scenario. Additionally, the ease with which it talks to After Effects is hugely beneficial; I was able to easily extract specific 3D null data to place 2D and 3D assets directly on the timeline, which is important when calling track tags and location markers. The result is a slew of dynamic assets tied to the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.

For an in-depth look at CG’s work in Wanda Visionsee the story from CGW Managing Editor Karen Moltenbrey in the Q2 2021 issue.


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