Although our team had a civil war over who is the best superhero from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (with some of us leaning towards Spiderman), everyone agreed that the Captain America films are amongst some of the very best of the genre. The third installment of the series, Captain America: Civil War smashed through the global box office at the helm of fan-favourite directors Anthony and Joe Russo, who are currently in pre-production for the upcoming Avengers sequels.
We imagine that developing some of the biggest properties for the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a not so casual endeavor that involves numerous caffeine-filled nights. Working with Mark Homza, who runs Flixel Studios, photographer Ylva Erevall caught a glimpse into the Russo Brothers creative process during a print and cinemagraph shoot for New York-based photography blog and publication Resource Magazine, who profiled the famed directors for their 2016 Motion Picture Issue. “From the get-go, the Russos absolutely loved our ideas and had a really fun, energetic vision for the final product,” shared Resource Magazine Editor-in-Chief, Billy Murray.
Like many shoots involving high-profile talent, Resource Magazine, Ylva, and the Flixel Studios team had a limited time period to capture the needed content while staying mindful of creative guidelines, which necessitated an extensive preproduction. It was during that time that Billy, Ylva and Flixel Studios found a lot of support for the development process. “In this case, not only were we working with the Russo’s team, but also with Marvel Studios, who supplied the props (yes, those were the real props used in the movies!),” said Billy. “This made it essential to have the concept locked in early on, so we knew how far we could take it.” That concept, which used props like Hawkeye’s bow and arrow, Ant-Man’s helmet and of course, Captain America’s shield, needed to be adaptable for both still photos and cinemagraphs.
In her previous career with fashion retailer H&M, Ylva realized the impact of visual design on consumers and how it can elicit emotion in the audience, an understanding that underscores her work with cinemagraphs as well. “I love looking at cinemagraphs that successfully engage you and create that ‘WOW’ factor,” she expressed. She used light as a thematic point to execute that impression for the Captain America shoot, which “was the natural way to go” while paying homage to the Marvel Cinematic Universe using the two mediums. “The shine on the shield was a given since the shield is such a big part of the Captain America brand.”
Looking at the heroes behind-the-screen, Ylva, Billy and Flixel found a much more tiring tale. “Billy came up with the concept of ‘creative exhaustion’ based on his interview with the Russo Brothers,” Ylva shared. “I felt that including the light bulb as part of the cinemagraph was such an iconic way of showing a bright idea coming Joe’s way.” We’ll take the steam rising out of the coffee mug as a confirmation for our theory: coffee gives everyone superpowers.
Marvel Studios may not be ready to confirm that idea, but one thing is for certain: cinemagraphs are here to stay for advertisers and storytellers alike. “Today, with affordable consumer technology, we can produce cinemagraphs, VR content, 360-degree video, 4K video, time-lapses, and more, all with the simple click of a button,” said Billy. “The content we’re creating today is more engaging than ever before, and with higher engagement comes a more powerful emotional response.”
As a certain webslinger comic once told us, with great power comes great responsibility. Good thing we’ve got cinemagraphs on our side.