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'Iron Man' swoops into theatersThe new movie <i>Iron Man</i> may be based on the 1960s comic strip, but its special effects are anything but vintage. CNET News.com's Kara Tsuboi talks with the visual and animation supervisors at Industrial Light & Magic about pushing the limits of...
[ Music ] ^M00:00:05 >> [Inaudible] repairing to pile [assumed spelling] down and begin diagnosing. >> Hey there, I'm Kara Tsuboi [phonetic], CNET News.com. That's a scene from Iron Man, A live action movie starring Robert Downey Jr. as protagonist Tony Stark. >> Now, the movie is based on a 1963 comic book, but the special effects in it are anything but vintage. ^M00:00:24 [ Explosions ] ^M00:00:29 >> The film does stay fairly closely to some of the original parts of the story line. >> But, you know, a lot has happened to this character over the years. I think that's one of the reasons he has big cult appeal. >> Even though Iron Man is a slick superhero action flick, in honor of the story's legacy, Director Jon Favreau was wary of relying on too many computer-generated images to build the movie and the suite. >> You'd have Robert Downey Jr. wearing maybe a chest plate from the real suit. And then our computer graphic suit would be added around that. >> As Ben Snow describes, it was a challenging task for his visual effects to [inaudible] industrial light and magic. >> There was a beautiful looking real suit that looks exactly like this. And in fact, we filmed that in most of the shots. Jon Favreau and the studio [inaudible] supervisor, John Nelson started sort of asking questions about parts of the suit. They'd stop being able to tell which was computer graphics and which was real. And that was a great moment for us. >> For inspiration on modernizing Iron man's weapons, Snow's team turned to real technology like mechanically operated guns. >> We also used the Zen [assumed spelling] machine, which is over at [inaudible] lab, as a sort of inspiration for some of the electrical discharges that these devices give off when they go into overload. >> Integrating the CG Iron man and other characters into the fabric [assumed spelling] of the movie was the job of Hal Hickel's and his animation team at ILM. >> He's not a robot. He's a man in a suit. >> Their challenge was also to ground the characters in reality. >> We tried to have a little performance nuisances and things that signal to you that yes, there's really a person in there and it's not a robot, and you know, he's in jeopardy, so [inaudible] was really important. >> To animate those moments more accurately, Hickel's team developed new software called Imocap [assumed spelling], short for lightweight, high def motion capture. >> What's going on here? >> Let's face it, this is not the worst thing you've caught me doing. >> Where Robert is completely encaged in a computer generated suit. And it had to really, really tightly match his motions. It's basically kind of digital costuming. >> Since Iron Man is a flying Superhero, getting his airborne skills just right and just real enough was also a challenge. >> We had, you know, lots of movies, everything from Peter Pan to Superman to look out and try and veer away from because we wanted him to do some things different with his flying, and for the audience to understand that this is machine he's encaged himself in, and that's what keeping him up. It's not magic, it's not superpowers, it's technology and if its fail, he's going to [inaudible]. >> The Iron Man is battling his nemesis, Ironmonger, played by Jeff Bridges. The animation's team had to digitally build the set to get the right scale [assumed spelling] to create what they call his classic marvel moments. >> We're not bound to what was photographed anymore. It can still look just as real as the original footage but with maybe a new camera move that wasn't planned for onset. >> Because maybe we had no ideals later about the action, or how high we wanted a character to jump or how fast we wanted him to run. ^M00:03:32 [ Explosions ] ^M00:03:36 >> It's a great hotrod of a movie. It is, it's a really, it's a fun ride. >>It's got great thrills and a lot of fun. And it's very tight, you know, and Robert Downey's great. He's really funny, and I really like it a lot. >> For a character in a story with a forty-year history, it has a lot of material to [inaudible] for a sequel or even a third. Also, keep your eyes peeled [assumed spelling], for Iron Man the video game from Sega. In the meantime, catch the movie when it's released in theaters nationwide on May 2, and see if you can tell the difference between the CG and the practical suit. >> I'm Kara Tsuboi, CNET news.com. ^M00:04:48 [ Music ]