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Highlights from DC FanDome : InsiderVerse

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DC FanDome took fans behind the scenes of their favourite films and TV shows.

DC FanDome continued into a second day with more in-depth content looking into the making of the films and television shows of the DC universe.

Day One of DC FanDome was all about the big-ticket events, such as DCEU properties The Flash Movie and The Suicide Squad,as well as teasers from upcoming seasons of The Flash and Titans.

While fans got plenty of tidbits for the major properties during the extended version of DC FanDome, some of the highlights of the day focused on the making of the films and shows that fans love.

We look at the behind-the-scenes panels at DC FanDome and what we learned about movie and TV magic.

WW84 AMAZON: PATTY JENKINS

Wonder Woman 1984 Amazons

Panelists

  • Patty Jenkins (WW84 filmmaker)
  • Tiffany Smith (Host)
  • Lilly Aspell (Actor playing Young Diana)
  • Lindy Hemming (Costume Designer)
  • Aline Bonetto (Production Designer)
  • Jenny Pacey (Trainer and Amazon Performer in Opening Games)
  • Brontë Lavine, Briony Scarlett, Jade Johnson, Miranda Chambers, Moe Sasegbon, Gwendolyn Smith, Dayna Grant, Jessie Graff (Amazon Performers)

We’re going to see more of the Amazons in WW84, particularly the Amazon Games, which have been an integral part of the Wonder Woman lore from the comics.

There are several aspects of the Games that director Jenkins wanted to showcase including horse-riding and archery. Which made the casting process incredibly difficult because they were looking for athletes with a vast array of abilities.

However, Jenkins and her team were able to find a group of diverse people from around the world—but largely from the UK. The performers reflected a variety of fields and were dancers, stuntwomen, physiotherapists, Olympians, and entrepreneurs. For many of them, WW84 is their first acting role, but it’s already become the springboard for more work.

The process of training for the film took months and the cast became very close, even acting as inspirations for Young Diana actor Aspell.

Pacey, the trainer, shared how the first week—called Hell Week—was a challenge for the Amazon performers. But when she repeated the same session later in their training, they were able to see how much they had accomplished.

Listening to the performers’ experiences, there’s obviously a lot of hard work that’s gone into the Amazon Games, and the final product is set to be exciting and stunning.

CRAFTING THE WONDER – DOCUMENTARY

This documentary looks back at the making of Wonder Woman. The cast and crew emphasized the many layers of Wonder Woman—that she is courageous and graceful, but also believes in the best in people, and in truth. Bringing that heart into the film was incredibly important to everyone involved.

The World War I-setting was a challenge in some ways—superheroes are considered contemporary but Wonder Woman was being placed in the past. In order not to lose the audience, Jenkins worked with her team to create a grand aesthetic. But she also wanted to infuse pops of saturated colour and discussed John Singer Sargent’s use of colour in his artworks for inspiration.

All the props and sets were meticulously designed and executed—the props had individualised designs according to the characters’ personalities and the sets were practically functional.

The amount of work that goes into making a superhero property is mindboggling but its great to get this insight from the makers of the film.

BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE ARROWVERSE CROSSOVER – PANEL

Panelists

  • Marc Guggenheim (Executive Producer/ Writer)
  • Phil Chipera (Assistant Director, The Flash)
  • Maya Mani (Batwoman Costume Designer)
  • Lynda Chapple (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Property Master)
  • Armen Kevorkian (Batwoman/The Flash/Supergirl Senior Visual Effects Supervisor)

The Arrowverse crossovers have been steadily becoming more elaborate, with 2020’s ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ spanning five shows. This is no small feat and takes teams of people to execute.

Chipera spoke about the enormous and detailed schedules created to keep track of where the actors will be, what costumes and props are required, and what is needed when.

Chapple keeps track of props and suits—as there are multiple versions either for stunts or aesthetics—and they’re circulated around the shows depending on the needs of the story.

Creating suits for the crossover starts before casting, at times, so Mani ended up creating the Monitor’s suit before LaMonica Garrett was cast—she based the suit on Brandon Routh.

VFX is huge in the crossovers and Kevorkian mentioned struggling with timing and coordination—scanning actors and costumes is only possible if they are ready and available.

Listening to the panelists, it sounds like the crossovers are an exhausting endeavour but considering how beloved they are among fans, they are also rewarding.

CREATING A WORLD: A LOOK INTO THE PRODUCTION DESIGN OF THE DC FILM UNIVERSE – PANEL

Panelists

  • Beth Mickle (The Suicide Squad)
  • Bill Brzeski (Aquaman)
  • Jennifer Spence (SHAZAM!)
  • Patrick Tatopoulos (Justice League)

The look and feel of a film make it as memorable as the performances and stories. This panel of production designers shared how they brought the vision of the director to life through sets, colour palettes, and the visual language of the film.

It’s an all-encompassing job and requires the production designer to work with concept artists, carpenters, sculptors, painters, costume designers, prop makers, and visual effects teams.

But it also requires a great deal of imagination because superhero worlds are fantastical in many ways. Fortunately, comic properties have reference points that designers can turn to, though it does require a lot of research to make something that the director and fans will love.

The passion of the designers was infectious, and one can see why these superhero films are so stunning to watch.

THE SUPER DESIGNERS BEHIND THE SUPER SUITS – PANEL

Panelists

  • Trayce Gigi Field (Costume Designer and Host)
  • (CWverse Costume Designer)
  • Lindy Hemming (Wonder Woman films, The Dark Knight films)
  • Erin Benach (Birds of Prey)

Superhero suits are almost as iconic as the characters themselves. This panel featured some of the most well-known names in the world of costume design discussing what it takes to make a super-suit.

Four-time Academy Award-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood is a well-known name in Hollywood, but she’s also created the earliest iterations of the Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, and Batwoman suits.

Atwood spoke about sharing a combination of colours, fabrics, paintings, and photos to show the director and cast the direction they were going in for the costume.

The panelists spoke about the importance of understanding the psychology of the characters and learning the vision of the world before making the costume.

For Hemming, who inherited the Wonder Woman costume from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, her process for designing the Amazons’ suits started with Wonder Woman’s. While she adopted the iconography, she changed some of the styles because the Amazons weren’t princesses or leaders like Diana and Hippolyta.

The research and detail that goes into making these iconic suits is impressive and it’s no wonder that their suits are memorable.

HEROES BEHIND THE ACTION – PANEL

Panelists

  • Danny Le Boyer (Black Lightning)
  • Walter Garcia (DC’s Stargirl)
  • Simon Burnett (Supergirl)
  • Larnell Stovall (Titans)
  • Eunice Huthart (Justice League/ The Flash)
  • Christiaan Bettridge (Gal Gadot’s stunt double on Wonder Woman 1984)

Superheroes and action sequences go together, but who are the people behind the stunts? This panel of stunt coordinators and performers shared some fascinating insights into the making of an action shot.

A lot of planning goes into the making of an action scene, including visualizing, training schedules for stunt performers and actors, rehearsals, and finally, on-camera execution.

An action sequence must be broken down into smaller shots and the team then works with prop masters and CGI teams to execute the final product.

On TV shows, there’s less turnover time than on films, but the stunt teams all seemed to be happy to push the envelope even further than they already are. Fans can expect bigger and more exciting stunts in upcoming films and seasons.

THE MAGICIANS OF VFX: MAKING SUPERGIRL AND SHAZAM! FLY – PANEL

Panelists

  • Eric Goldman (Host)
  • Armen Kevorkian (Supergirl Senior Visual Effects Supervisor)
  • Jesse Warn (Co-Executive Producer/Director)
  • Jennifer Clarke (Melissa Benoist’s Stunt Double)
  • Cari Thomas (SHAZAM! Visual Effects Producer)
  • Michael Wassel (Visual Effects Supervisor)
  • Adam Lagattuta (Visual Effects Co-Producer)
  • Wesley Barker (Visual Effects Production Supervisor)

Everyone loves a flying superhero but since humans can’t fly, how are these actors sent into the sky?

The visual effects teams work not only on the CGI but also on budgets—because directors can often have great visions, but the effects team need to manage their expectations according to the money and human resources available.

Interestingly, while the SHAZAM! team spoke about having a year to work on their effects, the Supergirl team often only have three weeks to turn around the effects for an episode.

Speaking of the actual action shot, before an actor is even put in a harness or rig, the stunt teams break down the eyelines, exits, and character movements with the stunt double. Flying needs a lot of wind and that’s tested several times before finalising the shot.

Characters flying in film and television look so seamless, but it takes a lot of work to make it seem that way!

PROPPING UP A SET – PANEL

Panelists

  • Lynda Chapple (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow)
  • Matthew Wilson (Supergirl)
  • Drew Petrotta (The Suicide Squad)
  • Andy Siegel (Birds of Prey)
  • Anna Lynch-Robinson (Wonder Woman 1984)

The world of props is fascinating—all the bits and bobs that characters hold and use, which often make their way into commercial products like toys—are handcrafted by teams of people.

This panel of prop designers spoke about their favourite props—including Beebo from DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, that needed to be cobbled together from parts and fur from around the world. Essentially created for one episode, Beebo has become so well-loved that the character has returned for more episodes and crossovers.

Many props go through several iterations—there were 17 Green Lantern rings used in the film, for instance.

There’s a huge responsibility on the prop makers to create the props perfectly because fans are so close to the property and will tear it apart if it’s not as they imagined.

Creating props takes a ton of research but the result is something that fans not only love looking at but want to have in their own homes.

THE BATMOBILE – DOCUMENTARY

A documentary on the history of the batmobile in live-action and animated properties looks at how Batman’s iconic car has evolved from the comics through to the films.

The batmobile was initially little more than a car—and was recognisably Bruce Wayne’s car—before editorial pushed to change the look of it. That’s when the bat symbology came into prominence and all the cars since have strongly alluded to the same.

Most of the batmobiles have been functional—and can be driven. However, there are stunt versions created for action scenes, and others that were designed purely for aesthetics.

While every batmobile has its own fans, there is no doubt that this vehicle is a character in and of itself in the DC canon. No matter what it looks like, fans love it and they’re always excited to see Batman with his batmobile.

ACCELERATING DESIGN: THE NEW BATMOBILE

Panelists

  • Sal Masekela (Host)
  • Patrick Tatopoulos (Production Designer)
  • Dennis McCarthy (Specialty Vehicles)
  • Ed Natividad (Concept Artist
  • Joe Hiura (Set Designer, Vehicles)
  • Michael Scot Risley (Batmobile Crew)
  • Zack Snyder (Director)

The newest batmobile—from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and later, Justice League—required a whole different design and a new team to come to bring it to life.

The process began with a sketch by Tatopoulos on a napkin in a coffee shop following a talk with director Snyder about his vision. Natividad then conceptualised the initial art into a more concrete drawing, by creating a 3D model of it. Hiura used that model to create a functional CG-version of the car to find any design faults.

McCarthy and Risley worked on the physical model of the car—if it could survive the BAJA 1000 rally race, it could survive a movie set, according to McCarthy.

The difference between the BvS batmobile and the ones before was that this car belonged to a well-oiled Batman—his car was dinged and scratched and used. By the time Justice League came along, there were additions to the car, such as more weaponry.

This batmobile is completely usable and host Masekela even took it for a test drive during the panel. Impressive work, and all accomplished within four months.

CAPTURING THE ACTION IN STILL FRAME – PANEL

Panelists

  • Heidi Falconer (Host, Birds of Prey)
  • Clay Enos (Wonder Woman)
  • Jessica Miglio (The Suicide Squad, Gotham)
  • Katie Yu (The Flash, Supergirl, Batwoman)
  • Steve Wilkie (Titans, SHAZAM!)

It’s the moment that fans eagerly wait for—the first production stills from the next DC property. But who takes these pictures on-set that fans and press are so eager for?

That’s the job of the unit stills photographers—think James Olsen trying to get a shot of Lex Luthor and Supergirl fighting, all without getting hit by debris.

These memorable images—that get shared widely online and printed in newspapers and magazines—aren’t easy to get. Sets are busy places and full of equipment which makes getting the perfect shot a challenge.

The photographers often take 1500 images per day—almost 50,000 images for a single film—all in the search of that perfect shot.

The next time you click on that production still in excitement, you’ll know how much work went into it.

WARNER BROS. & ADVANCED NARRATIVES – THE FUTURE OF STORYTELLING – PANEL

Panelists

  • Peter Girardi (Executive Vice President, Creative Affairs, Warner Bros. Animation and Blue Ribbon Content)
  • Brandon Vietti (Executive Producer, Warner Bros. Animation)
  • Brian Jones (Vice President, Series, Warner Bros. Animation)

Warner Bros. Entertainment is pushing the envelope in interactive content, as revealed during this panel.

Chappell III spoke about his vision for interactive content that can be controlled not just by the user actively clicking on buttons, but by their biometrics and their reactions to the story. Chappell III’s team has already created a proof of concept for The Attendant, a story that will allow viewers to actually participate in the story. It looks like the Holodeck isn’t as far off as we imagined.

Vietti and Jones have been working on a new version of A Death in the Family, an interactive film that will give viewers the power to choose which direction the story goes. It sounds a lot like Netflix’s Bandersnatch, which should be quite an experience for fans.

And there’s more functionality on the way with possible interactivity via smart watches that will allow users to interact with Bruce Wayne and Batman.

This technology sounds incredibly exciting—and a little bit terrifying—but it is still a way off. When we do get this interactive technology, it will transform the world of superheroes.

What was your favourite panel, and why? Let us know in the comments!

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