WandaVision checked a few boxes off the list. It was the first series produced by Marvel Studios, opening the ever-growing Marvel Cinematic Universe even further beyond the standard box office audience. It also marked the first time visual effects supervisor Tara DeMarco with the House of Ideas, overseeing nearly two dozen vendors that had a hand in helping craft the visual effects for the Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany vehicle.
In total, DeMarco oversaw at least 3,000 separate shots for the series that included visual effects in some shape, way, or form — whether it includes something minor, or something massive, like building Westview from scratch. We recently had the chance to catch up with the supervisor to chat about all things WandaVision, including some of the show's biggest moments involving The Hex, Vision's death (again), and much, much more.
Keep scrolling to see our full chat with DeMarco!
ComicBook.com Let's talk about this nice little project called WandaVision. This is your first foray into Marvel if I'm not mistaken. Right?
Tara DeMarco: It is.
I mean, at this point, Marvel practically is the biggest thing in Hollywood, right? What's that like for you jumping into the massive Marvel machine?
It has been amazing joining the MCU. I think that the studio has amazing characters and amazing stories and really has made a number of really great films, and has a system in place for supporting filmmakers in telling those stories. So coming into the fold was a little bit like being guided through this process where we're given lots of tools and lots of support to make beautiful shots and support the films.prevnext
I don't think people necessarily understand just how intensive this world of visual effects is. Like the establishing shots of Westview for example — those shots were built from the ground up. No set, no existing town but rather, it's entirely computer-generated. Knowing that, how many shots total did you have throughout the series?
3010, I believe is our final number.
And that speaks to the testament of you and your team, right? Because the best possible visual effects are the ones that go unnoticed.
We love invisible effects, meaning the effects like Westview, where you don't know that we touched them. We, as visual effects supervisors and artists, do not want to take away from the audience experience of the scenes and the shots. So anything that pulls you out of the story isn't something that we want to do. The fact that nobody knew that Vision was CG, I mean, wow — and that the town wasn't there and there are a few other elements that weren't there...that's the kind of work that we're really proud is hidden and then we get to do fun, big stuff that everybody knows about.prevnext
You guys even made The Hex look incredibly real. I mean, I've never bumped into a magical hex while out and about, so I'm not sure what one would even use as a reference — so you know, that's impressive.
I have also never bumped into a magical hex. [Laughs]
Through the sitcom pieces of the show, there is definitely a focus on doing period-specific special effects on the practical side of things. Were you and your team involved with any of the old-school sitcom shots?
We were absolutely involved. We had lots of meetings with those departments, props, and special effects ahead of time to determine which ones might be in camera and puppeteered, and which ones might be live with the talent, which ones we might shoot with a second unit, and combine after the fact.
So we were a part of all of those conversations and supported Matt, Jacqueline, and the special effects team in their decisions, what could and couldn't be achieved practically and then we would help assemble those pieces later and fill in the gaps for anything that we could maybe get on the day.
I'm not sure if you're aware, but if you've been on the internet, a lot of people have been talking about all of the hexagons. At what point did you guys say, "Let's throw more hexagons in this scene so people tweet about it more."
Oh, I don't know. We knew that it was going to be called The Hex and that it was hexagon-shaped from the beginning. That was in an early script was that really adorable Darcy line about something she's working on, so we knew that that was the shape and had very early plans for our theoretical town, the amount of space it would encompass, and how far the boundary was from the town, just so we could plan our scenes.
Then, it may have grown. And then everybody used it to where the hex was a thing, and it was a boundary and an environment and a spell. So different departments may have found inspiration and added hexagons here or there.
You talk to the people that did Avengers: Endgame and they got to sneak in Howard the Duck. I haven't spotted Howard the Duck yet in WandaVision, but did you and your team kind of you know stow something away.
We did not take it upon ourselves to hide anything in the show. If anything was in the show, it was probably either given by the studio or by props, or it was an intentional homage, in which there are. I know there is a handful [of homages], but we didn't add any on top. We knew that there would be one zillion eyeballs, and nobody wants to get in trouble.
You speak with visual effects supe all the time and a lot of recurring problem-type shots involve water or something like that. Is there one sequence you can think of throughout the show that may have given you a little bit more hell than anything else?
I'm not sure that anything gave us particular hell. There were a lot of sequences that took a lot of care. The Hex where Vision escapes and gets torn apart is the same hex, the very active scene that Monica and the Rover have pushed through. And those were challenging because characters made contact with them for a long time and we need to feel the red of the hex on Vision and on the Rover, and really getting that to feel visceral. But that's just that we spent a little bit of extra time on those scenes.
We had scripts for a while, so we knew what we saw coming down the road.prevnext
When Monica crosses through the hex I mean, that's the most Dr. Strange-y thing I've ever seen. Did you kind of get direction from the studio to look at this project or something from Age of Ultron?
We were given direction from that Matt Shakman about what he wanted her to feel as she went through the hex and it was meant to be a reliving of her pain when you hear the lines from the other movie and you see echoes of herself. And it's really like self-determination that when she comes back together and begin and decides that like, she's overcoming this, this struggle and this journey to jump through the boundary. We hit a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot iteration of that. Where it landed, I love, but it looked like many different things, sometimes more colorful and sometimes less. We ended in a place that was less colorful just because it felt like it was really a tough thing that the character was going through. And it wasn't right to make it too bright.
We talked tough and let's do the opposite side of that. I know it's asking you to pick a favorite kid or something like that. But you sit down and watch this, is there just one sequence you're just exceptionally proud of that you can't believe you had a hand in helping bring to life?
Mostly, I mean, I really love episode eight because it's all of the stages of Wanda's grief and there's hero visual effects and supporting visual effects, and we had a hand in a lot of that episode. But it became about Wanda's journey and not necessarily about our work. And it does culminate in that beautiful sequence where she builds Vision in the house, which we all love. So I think we're proud of that.
WandaVision is now streaming in its entirety on Disney+.0comments
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