Kent Seki, from Pixel Liberation Front, was the Visualisation/ HUD Effects Supervisor in Iron Man. The HUD design was influenced by the Dave's helmet in 2001: Space Odyssey(1968).
|Space Odyssey Helmet|
Story board artists drew shots of Tony Stark inside his mask. The depth in-between the graphics inside the Ironman mask allowed Robert Downey Jr. to preform with his face and eyes. This created a believable control panel. Every single widget in the helmet has been thought about, each one has to be intuitive. Every panel activated from a collapsed mechanism to a large widget which moves forward in Z space.
3 things that had to happen:-
- The actors performance had to drive the action of the HUD.
- The Z depth had to be believable, so widgets appeared in the direction the actor was looking.
- Each shot had to have an alpha event, so a 'targeting shot' could be distinguished from a 'horizon lock shot'.
The approach to design the different HUDs:-
Ironmonger HUD- the design Stark Industries would release to the military, vector style graphics, aggressive, mean and primitive.
Tonys' HUD- Slick Technology, reflects his personality. Colour was an important factor here; in the 80's amber was hi-tech, in the 90's it was more blue/ cyan. Through out the film his helmet HUD shows progression, so the Widgets change colour from when he is 'scanning' to when he is 'flying' but in the Mark 3 (Final Suit) everything is uniform.
The white interface is clean and simple which makes the HUD look more advanced, animators used colour to pop up widgets for attention such as 'low power' or 'target'.
In the Mark 2, there are many different Widgets for each control. But in the Mark 3, The Orphanage animators created an omega widget. This would be a simple compus style graphic with little information around the sides, but when Tony looks at it, a lot more information pops out as the graphic evolves from its rest state.
I have to admit, I did not pick up on a lot of the changes that happen to the HUD until l saw the 'making of' documentary. But its almost one of those subtle effects which gives a little more impact and believability to the film.
The fact that the widgets are driven by the actor definitely create believable technology. I have seen on-line tutorials trying to copy this effect. They have not looked at the small details of evolving graphics to show more or less information depending on what else is happening in the scene. I believe it is these small things which add seamlessness and believability to the HUD.
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