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Jake Morrison, Love and Thunder VFX supervisor

ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke to Jake Morrison, the VFX Supervisor of Thor: Love and Thunder, on what it’s like to bring Marvel’s visuals to life. The film is available digitally now and will be released on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD on September 27th.

“In the fourth part, Thor finds himself on a journey he has never experienced before – a quest for inner peace. But his retreat is interrupted by a galactic assassin named Gorr the God Butcher, who seeks the annihilation of the gods. “To combat the threat, Thor enlists the help of King Valkyrie, Korg and his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster, who – to Thor’s surprise – inexplicably wields his magical hammer Mjolnir as the mighty Thor. Together they embark on a harrowing cosmic adventure to uncover the secret of the godslayer’s vengeance and stop him before it’s too late.”



Tyler Treese: As the visual effects supervisor, you manage a large part of the project. With Marvel movies, take a look at these credits and the number of people involved is staggering. You work with so many great people, but what is it like piloting a ship like that?

Jake Morrison: Yes, it’s a thing; there is no question. You start out with a relatively manageable number of key visual effects companies that will look like… for example, we knew that Weta [FX] would fight our last fight. We knew this method [Studios] wanted to do the moon of shame. So you start with those cornerstones and then… honestly you try to contain it as sanely as you can. But because of – I wouldn’t say it is [a] Marvel factor – I guess it’s just [a] Movies make factor. Once you’ve shot the film and start putting it together, story-related opportunities will start to present themselves. A particular actor’s performance might be stronger at this, or you might suddenly decide, “Well, what if we do that?”

And then we get additional photos, so you start adding more pieces. To avoid overloading these providers, end up catching up with more providers. I think we reached 25 different vendors in this picture. So from a practical standpoint, and god bless you for asking that, because it’s like… it’s definitely a thing for my team because we’re actually a relatively small team. This is me and my visual effects producer, Lisa [Marra] – the kind of key partnership there – and then we have a small team of coordinators, probably 10 or so. And then each of these coordinators has one or two vendors. So what I do from a practical standpoint is I start the morning because we’re based in Los Angeles, start the day and talk to Europe and chase the sun. Go from Europe to London, to New York, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Los Angeles.

In the afternoon we head down to New Zealand. We had Adelaide, China… I mean basically you sweep the globe, that’s how you do it. And then whenever you’re done, finish the day because there are other things to do after that. Then you get up and do it all over again. You get used to different time zones because you have international date lines, so certain providers drop out because it’s their weekend or not, or suddenly Sunday gets a lot busier because it’s actually a Monday in New Zealand, and at a certain point there is no weekend. And why should there be? you only work

You mentioned that the final fight is planned. So much goes into this one, but what are some of the smaller elements in a movie like Thor: Love and Thunder that end up being elusive that viewers wouldn’t really think about?

Trying to come up with new things to do with the hammer – that’s number one because we’ve done a lot of things with the hammer. I’m trying to make the flash look better, I think I’ll say that because this is my fourth Thor movie, bizarre enough. So you tend to get a lot of effect flashes. So they try to make each battle sequence as cool as possible. The fact that Natalie’s hammer could split into multiple pieces gave me something different to play with from an action point of view. We now had … as someone once said, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Suddenly we no longer have a hammer, but a laser-guided machine gun that only kills bad guys. So it’s fun to think of different ways to do this. The part that most people wouldn’t take away from the movie because hopefully it’s just going to be done that way is… Taika [Waititi]’s edict for me from the start was, ‘I have these giant set pieces, I have one in the golden temple – so we have all the gods – we have every single god you can think of. ” Then we have the shadow creatures. The shadow creatures, Gorr cast them, and apart from a few keys that everyone liked and that we repeated a bit, I would say that 98% of these two huge categories have no repeats, which from a visual effects point of view is almost impossible because there is always some kind of efficiency. If you’re acting like a soccer crowd, you’ll mostly have two-legged people in a variety of outfits. You basically roll the dice and you get a bunch of different variations.

By that, Taika meant, “I don’t want to see the same one again. I want to see gods with big heads, little gods. I want to see gods that are 18 feet tall. I want to see gods that are just eyeballs.” It was basically a challenge, he just said, “Okay, you guys will come up with that.” So I think, from a casual point of view, from the audience’s point of view , wouldn’t you know that, say, if we take the shadow creatures – here’s something no one would know about the shadow creatures – every single shadow creature is born from a shadow, but its shape is based on the thing that cast the shadow Has.

So if, for example, as in the children’s room, the first [in] Molly’s bedroom, the light source is casting a shadow and it’s a prickly pop plant or something. The resulting creature will be prickly. Or if you have a soft shape, like a bicycle tire or something, the resulting creature will have tentacles. So we put this massive amount of backstory and development into this stuff that’s never explained. There’s no point in the film for the actors to sit down and talk about it, “Well, these shadowy creatures are really scary. Well, I wonder if they look like that.” All they wanted was wave after wave of insane Avengers, but for Team Marvel and Taika, it was critical that we have some form-following function. There’s a reason they do this stuff. It’s not just a bunch of clone-like monsters.

So things like that… there’s only a million of them. If I told you how many rounds we did with Jane Foster’s little transponder that she uses to look at the pieces and get readings, you probably wouldn’t believe it. There are just so many. It had solid dials, it had this, it was an iPad-like thing, it had waveform displays. All this stuff is the invisible work that we just do in every film. It’s really fun – super fun things to do – but I think the only way it works is that people don’t even notice.



You have worked on all four Thor films. What it was like to see his journey in this film. When he ends up becoming a father, I was so happy as a viewer. So how does this growth look on screen?

Oh, it was glorious. The thing is, you see it on screen and then you work with the same actors. I worked on the first avenger picture, so I worked with Chris [Hemsworth] and this gang with tom [Hiddleston] and these guys for years. So they grow up as humans. It’s probably, I don’t know, when I say it’s been 12 years or so since I started working on the first one, could it be true? probably is. That’s a lot of life to share with that. No one was more surprised than all of us when Taika took Thor Ragnarok and really just ripped it off and went with the new playbook. Broke his hammer, cut his hair off, put him on a planet where everyone else is already a superhero, so there’s no benefit to being Thor.

[He] basically cut the teeth out of the whole thing, which I thought was awesome. You couldn’t do this story again because it’s like a straight downbeat story. So, “What’s the thing he fears most?” It’s commitment and it’s people he loves when he gets hurt in a way. [It] was a really attractive and interesting angle for Taika to come here. It ends up being a sad story because the heroine dies at the end. So it goes. But the journey itself, I think there’s enough emotional complexity in there that there’s enough room for Chris to really grow the character aside from the jokes. For me it was great. It is great.

These things come every four years and it has been a privilege to work on them. There’s one thing I can tell you that’s cool Thor Films: There is no fixed script that can be brought to the screen visually. If you’re dealing with a geopolitical thriller or a movie set on a train, you pretty much know what you’re going to do for a living. If you sign up for a Thor Movie, all you know is that it’s going to be absolutely anything. Space Dolphins were not in the pitch meeting. Just come up with this environment like you have the spaceship passing through and then what does space look like?

We’ve been through hours and hours and hours of collecting. I wanted the room to look more like the super cool Doug Trumbull stuff from the 70’s. They made oil and water, like the original star trek Film — stuff like that or 2001: A Space Odyssey, where they used all this really weird chemistry, like literally physical chemistry, to see space. So I wanted to bring some of that into this film. Some of that and that liquid, frozen Aurora Borealis thing that the goat boats go over. At the same time, if you told me at the beginning of the project [that] I had to work out the technique… “Okay, there’s going to be a boat and it’s going to fly and it’s going to be pulled by mega goats screaming, but we have to build a rainbow bridge and that we’re going to take the ax we gave him last.” to have avenger Imagine and fire the Bifrost, creating a solid bridge that the goats’ hooves will then smash into, kicking up crystalline shards and ultimately destroying the bridge as the boat’s keel slices straight through the bridge. By the way, this time we’re actually making a full rainbow out of it. We won’t just fool around like we used to gate 1 with the fight between Loki and Thor on the bridge. It’s actually Roy G. Biv. We left full of rainbows.” You can’t do that with most films. It’s pretty random.

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