‘WandaVision’ Used a 1950s Trick to Make Vision Look Right in Black and White
WandaVision is done and dusted for now, letting fans turn their attention to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier next week. Despite that eye on the future, Marvel Studios had one last treat in the form of an hour-long behind-the-scenes special digging into the groundbreaking, genre-defying series.
Most of the special, Assembled: The Making of WandaVision, understandably focused on the show’s unprecedented mix of superheroes and sitcom tropes. This included extensive explorations of the production tricks used to emulate the look of those classic shows, like a live studio audience and wire work inspired by Bewitched.
‘WandaVision’ used old tricks to make The Vision look just right
The first two episodes of WandaVision are inspired by classic sitcoms from the 1950s and 1960s, in particular The Dick Van Dyke Show and Bewitched. As such, they are some of the only media within the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be shot almost entirely in black-and-white.
This presented an issue for the costume and makeup departments, as Vision’s red face just didn’t look right on actor Paul Bettany when converted to greyscale color.
“So, when we translated red Vision into black-and-white, he didn’t really look like Vision,” visual effects supervisor Tara DeMarco explained. “We did tests using footage from the previous films… and we quickly realized, he would have to be blue.”
Vice President of Visual Effects Jen Underdahl explained that the trick of using the color blue was based on an old tactic that female actors utilized in the heyday of black-and-white sitcoms. In order for it to look like they were wearing red lipstick, they had to use a blue shade. Something about the process of shooting colorless footage really doesn’t like the color red, apparently.
Other changes were made to Vision’s VFX
The Smurfs-like makeup tricks weren’t the only thing that the behind-the-scenes footage in Assembled revealed about WandaVision. It was also shown that the series had a new approach to making Bettany look like the classic Synthezoid.
In past films, all the various bits material on Vision’s head were created using actual prosthetics. This was changed for WandaVision, replacing prosthetics with motion capture visual effects technology. In multiple clips from the special, Bettany is seen with blue or red face paint and mo-cap dots applied all across his head. This is sure to come as a surprise to many fans, as the effect is practically seamless while watching the finished episodes.
This new approach did cause a bit of friction between director Matt Shakman and the VFX team on WandaVision. Since it had to be created with effects work, DeMarco said that her team often questioned whether is was necessary for Vision to sport the classic android look as often as he did. Shakman and the rest of the creative team rationalized the decision, saying that the character would want to be his true self as often as possible when in the comfort of his own home.