Avengers: Infinity War VFX Supervisor Explains How They Filmed Peter Dinklage’s Scenes

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We’d been theorizing for a while what role Peter Dinklage would be playing in Avengers: Infinity War, with my pick being that he’d voice Black Order member Corvus Glaive. I was way off the mark with that one, of course, but I don’t mind being wrong given that who he did eventually play was so awesome.

I’m talking of course about casting him as Etri, the dwarf who forged both Thor’s former hammer Mjolnir and Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet. His scenes also had the pretty great gag of the dwarf being ten feet tall and towering over the rest of the characters. But how did they achieve that effect?

Making someone giant is a pretty old tactic for Hollywood, with everything from Attack of the 50 Foot Woman to the Lord of the Rings movies using various compositing and CGI tricks to make the effect plausible. Now, with the need for secrecy gone after basically everyone on planet Earth has seen the film, the special effects team are finally able to talk about it.

Explaining this particular effect is Method Studios VFX supervisor Greg Steele, who worked on the plot strand involving Thor, Groot and Rocket. Here’s what he had to say in a recent interview:

For those shots, because of time challenges with the talent, the directors were willing to restrict themselves to nodal camera moves [a fixed, rotating camera], which would allow us to quickly move through fairly simple forced perspective setups of the A and B sides of the shot. We would shoot the A side with Thor, then in the same place on set and in the same lighting conditions, we would bring in some portable bluescreens and shoot the Eitri plate, accounting for the scale differences by scaling down the camera relationship to the origin point that Eitri was standing on.

In combination with this, Method Studios also used a “digi-double” (a mocapped CGI Dinklage) in some of the longer shots. One interesting wrinkle worth mentioning as well is that The Hobbit trilogy claimed that they couldn’t use forced perspective due to the films being shot in 3D, so the camera trick wouldn’t work. Now, Infinity War was released in 3D, but was shot in 2D and post-converted into 3D. Looking at how good the results were, you wonder whether Peter Jackson made the right choice.

Either way, while I’d have liked more scenes involving Etri in Avengers: Infinity War, it was still nice to see Peter Dinklage – one of my favorite actors – finally make an appearance in the MCU and in such style.

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