Tag Archives: Captain America: Civil War

Visual Effects Artist Jie Meng is living his childhood dream

One of Jie Meng’s most distinctive childhood memories is watching The Lord of the Rings movies for the first time. After watching the first film, he was left speechless. Not only were these movies entertaining, but also artistic masterpieces. He began watching the films over and over again, constantly overcome by the magnitude of the stunning visual effects. He realized, even at that young age, that filmmaking could make fantasy a reality, and that was when he knew he had to be a part of that world.

Now, Meng is an in demand Visual Effects Artist. He is known for his work on countless films, including Avengers: Infinity War, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and more. His talents extend to television, such as The Americans, and Freaky Friday, as well as video games, like Quake Champions and Call of Duty: Black Ops III.

“I worked with Jie on Call of Duty: Black Ops IIIand later on Captain America: Civil War.

Jie is a talented FX artist. He strives to create the highest level of quality and is constantly pushing himself to learn new techniques, either independently or from the team around him. He listens to positive feedback and can build FX setups and tools that are used by multiple artists. This makes him extremely productive, a pleasure to work with and I hope to work with him again in the future.” said Peter Claes, FX supervisor and Lead VFX artist at The Mill.

Captain America: Civil War was Meng’s first true taste of movie blockbuster success with his work. The film, the third Captain America movie and the 13thof the Avengers franchise, grossed over $1 billion at the box office. It was nominated for 17 awards at various festivals and award shows and took home five. Meng worked tirelessly to make this a possibility.

“It was a huge pleasure and honor working on this film. The success made me think of those days when I devoted myself to the work, and now I realize that all my efforts paid off,” said Meng.

The movie sees the beloved Captain America pitted against Iron Man due to political differences. A vast array of Avengers appear throughout the film, taking sides. It’s a story about friends and brothers. It’s a debate between freedom and obeying the rules. Meng had always been a fan of the Marvel franchise and the Captain America films, but he knew this film would be something special and that he had to be a part of it.

“After watching the movie, I thought a lot. It actually reflects a lot of problems in our current society, an individual always wants to be free but also needs to follow the laws. I like movies that reflect the social status and will bring up a topic and let me think about it, and Captain America: Civil War is one of them,” said Meng.

When it came to the effects, Meng worked on many shots in several different sequences. His focuses were the roof helicopter fighting sequence and the final battle scene. He finished all different kinds of effects for various sequences, with little touches that dramatically added to the film.

Meng’s main task, however, was developing the Ironman thruster tool in the final combat sequence between Captain America and Ironman, the climax of the film. Therefore, he knew that his role was of the utmost importance for the film’s success. The tool needed to be packed and shared with other artists at both Los Angeles and Vancouver studios to finish every shot that contains Ironman’s thruster. It needed to be designed as a “one-click and automatically build the thruster” tool, but also contains all kinds of functions to modify and art-direct the thruster effects. Meng re-designed the thrusters from Iron Man 3and packed in a whole new digital asset. Every time he modified and polished the tool, he optimized it and made the tool easier to use. In doing this, he gathered the feedback from different artists and made it more and more productive. The whole process of building the tool was a very valuable experience for Meng and bettered the film as a whole.

“Being part of this feature film, witnessing the whole VFX workflow in the post-production made me completely understand that the VFX process is never easy. The most comforting, and also most important part was I have learned a lot from this project about how to build a digital asset tool that can be used in the visual effects production and was inspired by all the VFX artists around me,” he said.

Meng also worked on other different effects like the debris, smoke, sparks, snow, etc. Those photo-realistic effects elements completed the movie sequence and created a stronger visual impact on the audience. The experience, overall, was a great honor for the visual effects artist, and he wouldn’t change a thing.

“When I saw the film premiere and my name on the credit list, I was so proud of myself and the whole crew members, and that was the most exciting moment to me for watching all my effort paid off and it was so worth it,” he concluded.

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Umar Khan Makes Innovative Strides in How Action is Captured on Film

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Umar Khan

As CGI and effects technologies become more and more advanced, filmmakers are constantly working to keep up with the ever-growing hunger audiences have for high octane, adrenaline-packed action films.

When done right a great action film can often spawn sequels, prequels and spin-offs, and the merchandising opportunities of a hit can be limitless.

An epic battle or chase scene can sell millions of tickets, but explosions and flashy CGI are expensive and require a great deal of expertise. So naturally, the film industry is painstaking in its planning and filming of action sequences. That’s where Umar Khan comes in.

As an actor, director, stunt performer and action designer, Khan has been instrumental to the success of a countless array of productions. Most recently, Khan’s work can be seen in the star-studded blockbusters “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” starring Tina Fey, and Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” starring Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr. His professional martial arts training and conditioning makes him the top choice for directors who won’t settle for the second-best. Together with Stunt Fighting Concept, the action design team he founded, Khan is dedicated to designing and executing stunts and fight scenes that are not only intense and hair-raising but realistic and immersive.

“The fight sequences I design are meant to look very authentic due to the actual physical contact me and my teammates are inflicting upon each other,” Khan said. “My team consists of guys that have fought professionally or are highly trained in various areas of the stunt business and are used to the physical contact as myself.”

Among the many projects Khan has been a part of is “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – District Voices,” a 2014 mini-series produced by Google and Lionsgate to coincide with the massively successful “Hunger Games” series. Those familiar with the series are well aware of the intense action sequences and fight scenes which define it, and “District Voices” is no exception. Given the enormous popularity and fanbase of the series, it’s a testament to Khan’s skill and reputation that he was chosen to serve as the fight choreographer for the mini-series.

Khan is also known for his 2015 role in “Close Range,” the action-packed story of a man’s battle against all odds to rescue his family. The film stars Scott Adkins (“The Bourne Ultimatum,” “Zero Dark Thirty”) as Colton MacReady, an ex-soldier who’s forced to take matters into his own hands when the Mexican cartel kidnaps his sister and niece. Khan assumes the role of Sesma, a high-ranking cartel hitman tasked with stopping and killing MacReady.

In addition to being unparalleled as both an actor and action choreographer, Khan is also gifted with an extraordinary eye for cinematography. Together with his team, he is pioneering the use of a revolutionary new tool they have aptly dubbed the “semi-drone.”

“Our system freely captures the fights and action in a video game style by utilizing the director of photography as a part of the movement within the scene along with the performers, and having a second camera operator moving the camera through a monitor for a more up-close and detailed view of the action,” Khan described.

“You get the best of both worlds: the sense of POV along with the interactive part of 3D, which makes it feel like you are a part of the action.”

There is never a dull moment for Umar Khan, and the steady stream of projects in need of his expertise never slows down. With a lifetime of experience and boundless passion for his work, it’s no wonder he’s in such high demand. Those who want to catch more of him and his work are in luck: “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” is in theaters now, and the hotly-anticipated “Captain America: Civil War” is scheduled for release this summer.