Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2013 by Germain Lussier
Federico D’Alessandro has one of the coolest jobs in the world. He’s the Head Storyboard Artist/Animatics Supervisor at Marvel Studios, meaning he gets to conceptualize all your favorite Marvel Movies from the earliest point in the process. (You might also remember him from this Halloween pitch reel.)
With Iron Man 3 now in theaters, D’Alessandro has shared with /Film a very early animatic from the film. It’s of the mansion attack, where the Mandarin’s goons totally destroy Tony Stark’s Malibu home. The scene is filled not only with action, but non-verbal character development and tons of cool uses of the Iron Man armor.
D’Alessandro completed the animatic for the scene long before filming began and, below, you can check it out and read his account of creating it alongside director Shane Black.
Here’s the Mansion Attack animatic:
And here’s D’Alessandro’s account of creating it.
I met with Shane Black very early during pre-production to discuss this scene. Even in the early stages, the sequence seemed gargantuan. So much needed to happen in a relatively short amount of time, and I knew that this would be my most challenging animatic yet. The beauty of the way Shane works is that he’s not only a brilliant storyteller but he’s very open to other ideas, and during my time on the show he trusted me as a creative collaborator. I wanted to reward the freedom he gave me and that led to some of my best work I’ve done for Marvel yet. After a few story meetings with Shane where we hashed out a lot of beats together, he gave me control of the scene and I went to work figuring out how to turn this sequence into a visual spectacle.
Creating this animatic was a technically challenging process as I was trying a lot of new techniques not normally found in animatics. The storytelling had to be tight, the energy frenetic, and the action clear. One of the things I focused on was a “good news, bad news” stacking of the beats…Tony gets out of a bind, only to be faced with another challenge which he overcomes but then he is immediately dealt a fresh problem. As much as anything else, Tony needed to outthink his attackers.
Thankfully Shane and Marvel were ecstatic with the end result. By the time the animatic was approved by all the powers-that-be, were still many months away from shooting, but I think having this kind of scene locked down so early allowed Marvel to carefully strategize all the necessary elements to make this very complex scene come to life. In the end, they ended up following my animatic almost shot-to-shot, so seeing that on screen was an amazingly gratifying experience.
He promises to continue to load more Marvel animatics onto his YouTube account as well as his website, thefilmartist.com. Right now, he’s already got a few more from Iron Man 3 as well as The Avengers. What differences do you notice?