Prologue: Iron Man 2

To see the full collection of work Prologue created for Iron Man 2, head over to Prologue’s site.

For those of you who’ve seen Iron Man 2 (has anyone not seen it?), you know that Robert Downey Jr. shares the screen with Mickey Rourke and Don Cheadle for some of the film’s most intense sequences. But the real co-stars—the real palladium in Iron Man’s chest—are the ubiquitous motion design elements laced throughout the entire narrative.

From heads-up displays to preternaturally responsive real-time 3D interfaces, Tony Stark is augmented as much by stunning graphics as by his trademark power suit. Motion graphics even play a crucial role at the film’s turning point, delivering a life-saving “eureka” moment to Stark just in the nick of time.

Interface, Meet Plot

While a huge number of people and crews worked on the visual effects shots that made Iron Man the box-office smash it quickly became ($251M domestic and counting), we’re going to zero in on the epic work put forth by Prologue, who’ve shared a generous chunk of the process work behind their staggering slate of deliverables.

Not since the Minority Report have interfaces played such a major role in a Hollywood blockbuster. For Iron Man 2, Prologue lifted screen design elements off of flat surfaces and into the three dimensional world surrounding Tony Stark. As he struts through his secret lab, a virtual world of swirling data and wireframe plans pops forth from the genius playboy’s fingertips, creating a seamless dance between man and machine that elegantly echoes the symbiosis between Stark and his exoskeleton.

Process Montage

Element Discovery Sequence + Process

For the last couple decades, movies have used secret data disks and high-pressure data transfers as important plot points. (Hackers, The Net and even Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs all leap to mind against a backdrop of hundreds more.) But Iron Man 2 is the first film I can think of that actually puts the visualization of data at center stage, emphasizing not the content but the form it takes. I’m not saying it was a brilliant bit of screenwriting, but it certainly was an interesting move from the perspective of motion design in mass media.

Yeah yeah, it’s “just” fiction, but it’s edifying nonetheless. It points to the very real fact that many of the challenges facing contemporary society today can benefit from—or perhaps even by solved through—graphics. Or, more to the point, motion graphics.

Prologue’s challenge was to choreograph Downey Jr.’s finger-snapping, wrist-flicking bravura with an incredibly intricate graphical system that makes Tony Stark’s moment of realization feel like your moment of realization.

Visual Walkthrough Sequence + Process

Early Concepts: Molecule

Early Concepts: Heads Up Display (HUD)

Early Concepts: Holographics

Further Reading

Prologue Credits

Sequence Designers

Ilya Abulhanov
Paul Mitchell
Danny Yount

Executive Producer
Kyle Cooper

VFX Supervisor/Producer
Ian Dawson

VFX Associate Producer
Elizabeth Newman

VFX Coordinator
John Campuzano

Technical Directors
Jose Ortiz
Miles Lauridsen

Clarisa Valdez
Chris Sanchez

Alasdair Wilson
Jorge Alameida
Troy Barsness
Kevin Clarke
Morris May
Darren Sumich
Jonny Sidlo
Takayuki Sato
Kyung Park
Joey Park
Alvaro Segura
Man Louk Chin
Daniel Kloehn

Chad Buehler
Christopher DeCristo
Sam Edwards
Christopher Moore
Brett Reyenger
Matt Trivan
Renee Tymn

About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.

One Comment

Sid Vane

Absolutely wild, this is when I will get excited about technology. People in high school circa 1977 got excited about playing chess with a computer with everything in text, no visuals, everything inbetween that point and here is just practice. let me know when we get to where these interfaces are at!

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