DC Universe’s latest live action series Doom Patrol brings together a misfit band of heroes with diverse and unconventional powers, most of which made their small screen debut in DC’s Titans. Translating these characters from comic book page to screen falls to Encore VFX Supervisor Armen Kevorkian and his team.
Kervokian, who also oversees VFX for Titans, collaborated closely with the production team, led by Jeremy Carver, and concept artists to develop looks that remained grounded in the source material.
“Doom Patrol is like an R-rated Alice in Wonderland,” says Kevorkian. “Our driving mandate was to pay homage to these iconic comics. It’s been a blast creating wild character amalgamations, like Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, which is as insane as it sounds, and crazy destruction sequences.”
In the comics, villain Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk) appears as a 2D entity, almost entirely silhouette, with various shapes cut out of his body. An extensive look development process led to Mr. Nobody’s on-screen appearance. The team experimented with numerous different ways of retaining Tudyk’s on set performance in a character that appears so blank.
On set, Tudyk was captured wearing a full body mocap suit with facial tracking markers to provide reference footage and facilitate rotoscoping. Encore’s VFX artists then inserted a mostly digital Mr. Nobody, achieved through animation-based simulations, with illuminated lines throughout his body that added a sense of visual depth.
First introduced in Titans, Elasti-Woman (April Bowlby) appears more prominently in Doom Patrol, giving artists the opportunity to further develop her appearance. Kevorkian wanted to push the bulbous, intestinal look of her powers to be as disgusting as possible. Scenes in which she is stretches to enormous size and collides with large objects were typically filmed as practical plates with extensive CG compositing.
Development on the Negative Spirit, a being of pure energy that inhabits the body of Negative Man (Matt Bomer), was far more straightforward. The outline was very specific from the beginning, with the design needing to reflect the presence of electricity and kinetic energy. Diverging from the comics’ black and yellow look, the team created a whitish-blue energy that appears almost invisible at times. Something they felt gave the character a more dynamic on-screen appearance.
In addition to character development, Encore VFX works on an average of 200 shots per episode, with 2D supervisor Erin Bosworth, 3D supervisor Julien Forest and VFX producer Megan Condito helping Kevorkain to lead the team. The work includes an intricate X-15 aircraft model, a host of digital destruction, and a CG town built inside a snow globe. Doom Patrol premiered on 15th February 2019 and episodes are now streaming on DC Universe.