DNEG’s VFX work for ‘The New Mutants’ was mainly focused on the creation of the grotesque ‘Smiley Men’ – seven-foot tall grinning creatures with misshapen faces and limbs. These creatures are conjured from Illyana’s past, and personify the traumas of her childhood.
Our work started with the performances of extra-tall stunt performers who portrayed these characters on-set. Scans of the stunt performers were used to create and track in digital versions of the Smiley Men in each shot. We then replaced the actors heads and hands with animated versions, and adjusted the shadows to reflect the distorted shapes of the new anatomy. Similar scans of the main characters allowed us to manage close interactions with their pursuers, and maintain accurate contact points. Due to the design of the Smiley Men’s faces, which are mainly large grinning mouths, facial capture was not an option and the heads were fully key-frame animated.
When Illyana transforms into her mutant form, Magik, and destroys both the enemy and the environment around her, we layered in multiple lighting passes to create her glowing plasma sword, built CG sections of wall and floor to allow interaction with the sword, and created destruction simulations, fire and debris to maximise the impact of her sword strokes.