Like those from Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 opens in theaters, visual effects supervisor Stephane Ceretti remembers the “very emotional” final day of shooting with the cast, crew and director James Gunn. “We were all finishing up the last few scenes and saying goodbye to everyone. We all cried like babies on the last day,” he says in a new episode of The Hollywood Reporter‘s Behind the screen podcast. “We had so much fun shooting it, and we had so much fun and so much sadness at the end.”
It was late in post-production that Gunn was named co-chairman and co-CEO of DC Films, but Ceretti said the director never missed a beat on Guards. ‘That’s his baby. He’s been wanting to make this movie for a while and it’s so important to him. We had full access to him,” said Ceretti, a longtime Marvel collaborator, a two-time Oscar nominee for Marvel’s Guardians of the Universe And Doctor Strange. “With the sellers, especially with Weta before the last fight, he was there all the way.”
The ambitious third film in the franchise, which centers on Rocket’s past, included a whopping 3,066 visual effects shots spanning around 10 VFX companies, including Framestore, Weta FX, and Crafty Apes.
Meticulous character animation was critical as the evolution of Rocket, which as ‘the heart of the film’ had to be realistic and emotional. “There are a lot of close-ups in this movie. We opened the film with a very extreme close-up of the baby (Rocket) raccoon’s eyes, and then we switched to (adult) Rocket,” Ceretti says of their CG Rocket, one of many CG characters in the film. movie, which also features “badass” Groot and new characters. “It was so important that we get that detail correct (for example) the moisture in the eyes, all these things, almost seeing the tear ducts.”
“They have eyes that are very black, very dark, and you don’t see the white very often,” he adds of raccoons. “Usually when they look around, they just turn their heads. They don’t look around with their eyes as much as people do.” He remembers the VFX team studying raccoons when creating the character – and even has a picture of Gunn holding a baby critter.
The VFX supervisor discusses additional challenges to the VFX job, including a two-minute one that appears during one of the action sequences. “We worked on it in post-production for almost a year,” he said of the shoot, which was completed in Weta.
You can listen to the full conversation here: