Eternals VFX Supervisors Reveal the Film's Biggest Challenges

By Charlie Ridgely
It was clear from the very first trailer that Chloe Zhao‘s Eternals would be a departure from the majority of other Marvel Studios projects. With expansive locations, natural lighting, nearly a dozen new characters, and a story spanning thousands of years, Eternals was a beast all its own. Of course, a one-of-a-kind project creates one-of-a-kind challenges, especially for the VFX team. recently spoke with Eternals VFX Supervisor Stephane Ceretti about the process of bringing Marvel’s latest film to life, and the biggest challenges he and his team faced.
“It was the amount of stuff that there was in this film, which is kind of crazy when you think about it, when you look back at it and you’re thinking, ‘Okay, well, we are introducing 10 new characters with their powers,'” Ceretti explained. “We’re introducing the Deviants, we’re introducing the Celestials. We’re telling all their stories, and then we’re going to do that over 7,000 years. And we’re going to go through many different civilizations, and we’re going to have to show these civilizations and how they evolved. And then we’re going to have work with Chloe.”
Ceretti went on to explain that the scale was only part of the challenge. Not only is Eternals a massive movie, but it is also one of Marvel’s most unique in terms of how it was shot. Zhao attacked Eternals like she has her indie films, shooting on location and working with a smaller crew. Instead of creating a lot of effects from scratch, the VFX team had to work on top of the natural world.
“We’ve never done a visual effects film like that,” he continued. “And she wants to shoot it our own way, in a very indie way, with a limited team and crew around her and go on in all these locations and not shoot on a blue screen. So we’re, ‘Okay. It’s all going to be good.’ And we just went for it, but it was a challenge.
“I mean, there’s so many designs and ideas in the film that we had to figure out, that we had to bring all these brilliant visual effects vendors to help us. And also, the design departments at Marvel, the costume people, the production designers. And obviously all of that driven strongly by Chloe and her vision of the world. So that was a lot. That was a lot.”
Matt Aitken, WETA Digital VFX Supervisor, added to Ceretti’s sentiments by explaining that some of the things they had to do for Eternals wouldn’t have been possible a decade or so ago. 
“I think that maybe 10 years ago, it wouldn’t have been possible to do this film the way it was done because the visual effects team had more requirements. This has to be done like this. We’ll have to have these witness cameras. This will have to be covered in tracking markers. We’ll have to stop and light artists before we move on,” Aitken told us.
“But I think because we’ve just expanded and continue to develop our approaches and our tools, we can actually now support something like this,” he added. “As you say, we just allow the filmmaker to do things the way that they want to do. And we can cope. We can deal with it.”
Eternals is now streaming on Disney+.
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