fxpodcast #351 ILM’s Craig Hammock – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

In 2018 Craig Hammack was the visual effects supervisor for ILM who handled much of the VFX work bringing the Vibranium-powered capital of Wakanda to the screen for the first Black Panther film. In this episode of the fxpodcast, we talk to him about his Oscar-nominated work for the sequel: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

As with the first film, Wakanda required a vast variety of digital environments, from the high-tech aspects of the city to the waterfront port environments, – but this time the team had to design and build Wakanda for a water-based attack.

One of the most interesting aspects of the work in the film is the integration of special effects and visual effects. Onset, the practical water tanks could dump at the rate of a major swimming pool every 2 seconds, yet the production had actors and stunt people directly filming on the dump sets. As you can hear in the podcast, Daniel Sudick, the Production Special Effects Supervisor, remarkably built the tanks for the water so they could loop back continuously into the tanks as they dumped out, even so, an enormous amount of the water in Wakanda is ILM’s CG water.

The film involved advanced 3D, along with complex roto, blue screen, and roto work. Partial sets were extended and actors such as Tenoch Huerta Mejía (below) were filmed on location or outside as much as possible.

The remarkable Angela Bassett

ILM and the film’s art department faced not only technical and cultural design challenges on the film but they contributed to a film with a very real emotional punch due to the loss of the first film’s lead actor, Chadwick Boseman. In this episode, we discuss how Craig and the team wove the emotional subtext of the film into the visual effects. How do you make a city appropriately somber while still embracing the vivid colors of African culture – all built with advanced materials and technologies?

Once again ILM had to build the city but combine now older 3ds Max ILM tech with new art department designs and complex destruction sims. This required much more extensive use of Houdini for innovative destruction and water simulation.


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