MR. X partners with Marvel Studios to deliver magical VFX for ‘WandaVision’

Marvel Studios presents WandaVision, a blend of classic television and the Marvel Cinematic Universe in which Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany)—two super-powered beings living idealized suburban lives—begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems. Directed by Matt Shakman with Jac Schaeffer as head writer, the series debuted exclusively on Disney+ beginning 15January 2021.MR. X VFX supervisor Ralph Maiers and producer Anouk L’Heureux partnered with Marvel Studios on the show over the course of 10 months, and oversaw the team delivering 152 shots in the penultimate episode and the finale between MR. X’s Montreal and Bangalore studios.

“It’s in these pivotal episodes that we find out the true identity of Agatha Harkness (Catherine Hahn) as we flashback in time to the 1600s. Here, we discover Agatha to be a part of witch coven and as she stands trial before them, we witness her discover her magical powers for the first time,” said team.

The creative brief for MR. X was to create an intense and creepy environment without ever being too horrific in the stand off between Agatha and her coven. The VFX team had to be sure to create a balanced a visual style that would appeal to the wide-ranging age demographics of the MCU audience. The MR. X team was invited to explore the magic of the coven through concepts and experimentation. The team worked closely with show side supervisors Tara DeMarco and Sandra Balej on both the development and design of the magic interactions.

“The studio was a joy to work with and very open to the creative process in development of ideas and elements that opened the magic realm of the coven environment,” says Maiers.

The primary challenge for these sequences was creating multiple desiccation events for the witches as they begin to lose the battle with Agatha. The 8 witches where match moved and four where identified for tight skin tracking in the tech animation department for interactive flesh glow and desiccation growth on their flesh. Multiple levels of sculpt where created for these and blend shapes were rigged to create the transitions from level to level of desiccating flesh. The magic beams in the scene took months of R&D as the MR. X team developed conceptual ideas. These development cycles ranged from Wanda’s magical ethos to a more hybrid dark and moody directed emission that the team settled on for the final scenes. Together the coven of witches and their emissive magic powers created technically challenging scenes that the MR. X team were excited to dig into.