The character of Electro, who is the villain character played by Jamie Foxx in the US superhero film Amazing Spider-Man 2, is depicted as a human network of electric light, able to control electricity after being struck by lightning. Foxx is transformed into a super-charged evil force by the film’s visual effects team, which made use of a number of techniques to achieve this effect.
Sony Pictures Imageworks was the company responsible for creating special effects for the movie, with Jerome Chen positioned as the senior visual effects supervisor.
“It’s not technology that does the work. Technology is designed by people to give artists the tools they need in order to create the imagery. The technology is just super-sophisticated paint brushes,’ said Chen.
Electro’s powered look is inspired by natural sources of electricity such as neurological networks, deep space nebulas and lightning. On set Foxx wore extensive make-up, which provided tracking markers to be used in post-production and created an aesthetic foundation for the characters finished look. Remote controlled LED lights were fitted under his characters hooded sweat shirt so that his face would be lit, with the eventual objective being that his skin would appear to be emitting light.
The characters veins, organs, and blood was modelled so that the visual effects team could produce the illusion of his skin and body changing colour as his mood changed. Eight layers of intricate Computer-generated imagery were combined with on-set lighting and live-action footage to create visual illusions, including the animated lightning which is emitted from Electro’s hands.
Although computer-assisted methods were used to create a number of these effects, Chen points out that the technology was only an enhancement on Foxx’s performance and said, “The emotional intent of the scene, the character, what you see in his eyes in terms of what you’re feeling, that’s the actor and that’s always going to be the case. A computer is never going to be able to replace that for a human.’
Watch the Making Of Video by Wired for more information on how these effects were achieved.