When you’re a kid, a million different career options are running through your brain. You could be an astronaut, or maybe an actor, or you could be an explorer. How many children have considered that the possibility exists for them to be Storyboard Artist, or in the case of Federico D’Alessandro, a Storyboard Artist/Anamatics Supervisor for Marvel Studios. What does that mean? Put simply, his job is to design the awesome action set pieces that you in Marvel’s films such as The Avengers’ climactic New York sequence and, more specifically, Iron Man 3‘s Mansion scene. Where was that during Career Day? Regardless, it’s easily one of the coolest jobs ever to have ever existed.
Yesterday, D’Alessandro shared an animatic of the Mansion sequence from Iron Man 3 with /Film and, well, the result was pretty fantastic. The anamatic outlines the original plans for the destruction of the Stark Manor. In it we see the basic structure of what we would later see in Iron Man 3. Not yet here is Rebecca Hall’s Maya Hansen and in its place is an argument between GwynethPaltrow’s Pepper Potts and Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark AKA Iron Man. The essence of the scene is largely the same in the sense that a helicopter still fires on Tony Stark’s bachelor pad and psychic connection between Tony Stark and his Iron Man suit was well in place even back then.
It’s certainly very cool to see the way in which the story has progressed, yet stayed so distinctly similar as the development of the film went along. Look at the animatic below, along with D’Alessandro’s description of the scene’s creation and development:
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.