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'Iron Man'

May 08, 2008|Ron Magid

He appears to be made of metal but there's less substance to Iron Man than meets the eye. Stan Winston Studio built several Iron Man suits for Robert Downey Jr. to don in the superhero movie, but the actor soon realized he didn't have to wear the cumbersome costume at all. "There were scenes that could've been done in the suit," says Industrial Light & Magic's animation supervisor Hal Hickel, "but Robert preferred to wear the motion-capture suit," using ILM's iMocap system, which transformed Bill Nighy into Davy Jones in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" trilogy. When Iron Man flies for the first time, the digital pain proves to have been worthwhile: The action cuts seamlessly from the actual costume to the CG suit. "It looks like Winston's suit, then the control surfaces move and this glow inside tells you it's packed with technology. It's a great transition," Hickel says. Ultimately, ILM's digital Iron Man may have been held to an even higher standard than Winston's suit. "Some shots are 100% suit, some only a piece is real, and some are completely CG," Hickel says. "We just wanted to make it so unexpected that the audiences' reaction is, 'Wow! That's great!' "

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