Thursday, April 10, 2014

Exclusive: Interview with "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" Concept Artist James Carson

Thursday, April 10, 2014 - by Maurice Mitchell 0

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) concept art James Carson
Check out my interview with Captain America: The Winter Soldier concept artist James Carson!

I'm back with another interview with a concept artist for Captain America: The Winter Soldier! Find out how much they took from the comics, what's up with Steve Roger's apartment and how Nazis inspired the artwork.

Recently, I had a wonderful interview with one of the concept artists of Captain America 2. A self-proclaimed "art geek" James Carson is a professional concept artist who's worked on Hollywood films like Tim Burton's Superman Lives, Spider-Man (2002) and X-Men: First Class (2011).

Click on the images to enlarge


Maurice Mitchell: Thanks for taking the time James. So, you worked on a whole bunch of things for this film, but what did you spend a lot of time working on?
James Carson: I spent the most amount of time developing the Triskelion which is the S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters.

MM: The Triskelion has been a feature of the Ultimates comic books since 2002. Was there anything that you took from the source?
JC: We used the comic references sparingly. It seemed like  many of the comic book images were more of a futuristic type design. Production  Designer Peter Wenham felt early on that the Triskelion should be grounded in modern day sensibilities, and also representational of what S.H.E.I.L.D. had become, which is this huge powerful entity unto itself. So we really keyed off of Brutalist and Nazi architecture. Just big and brutal, and fortress-like.

Early on were developing it as modular, fortress type shapes, but we weren't bringing out the "tri" in the Triskelion, which the comics have done quite successfully.  One of the story points in the comic and just the name itself implies that it's made up of three basic systems, so we incorporated the three pillared cylinder as the centerpiece into the design.







MM: You also worked on Captain America: The First Avenger. What was difference about the design of this film versus the original?
JC: The first one was more of a throwback WWII war flick. Winter Soldier is more today and is bold enough to touch on some relevant issues. It was fun to support the story of both. Steve Roger's begins to question what it was to be a true patriot. Is it to blindly support the face of the government (or what was masquerading as government) or to support what you feel is right?

MM: So this is obviously a sequel to the first film, but has a very different feel. Is there anything that is a carryover from the first film?
JC: Well, Steve Rogers woke up 50 or 60 years later and is in a completely different world from the 1940s. So, we're dealing with how the world has changed.

For instance his apartment is kind of unsettled. He hasn't really unpacked anything. He doesn't feel moved into his apartment and his world. That was a conscious design decision. It was supposed to feel unsettled and uncomfortable.


MM: Was there anything especially challenging to design in the film?
JC:  It was a pleasure to work with production designer Peter Wenham. He was very in tune of the direction this film should take visually. And so it was in many ways easy to be an extension of that. He was very clear about the direction he wanted to go. At that point it was kind of fill in the blanks. We were never really searching for a theme or a design language.

MM: Now that Marvel Studios films have been in production for so many years and you've worked on more than one Marvel film. Have you noticed any changes to the process that have streamlined it?
JC: It has changed as technology has shifted. The art department is more collaborative with the different entities. Illustrators, set designers, Previz,  or Art Directors are creating and sometimes take the first crack at design. A number of years ago, the development for a film like Captain America would typically always begin with the concept artists. There are so many more tools available now there is sometimes more back and forth. In fact, on the Triskelion design I worked quite a bit with 3D set designer Dave Moreau. So I would develop some stuff  and then send it to him, and he would develop more, and send back to me, etc etc. We'd go back and forth quite a bit. Back in the old days that wouldn't happen as much. You would be given an assignment from start to finish. So, yes. It's much more collaborative.




MM: So this has been a great interview James. What project did you work on that's coming out in the near future?
JC: I just finished San Andreas (2015),  a disaster film starring the Rock. I spent most of the time messing with San Fransisco. I grew up in the Bay area and am very familiar with the city. So it was kind of fun destroying my home town.

MM: Thanks for the insightful interview James!

See more of James Carson's marvelous portfolio at www.jamescarsondesign.com

Click on the links if you want to see more of James Carson's work or Captain America: The Winter Soldier on my blog.

What do you think of the concept art? If you've seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier what did you think?
 
Official Captain America: The Winter Soldier Summary
After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Marvel's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever- widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy - the Winter Soldier. Based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series, first published in 1941, Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier is produced by Kevin Feige, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, from a screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, and stars Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp and Hayley Atwell, with Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Georges St-Pierre
Cinematography by Trent Opaloch
Production design by Peter Wenham
Release date: March 13, 2014 (Los Angeles premiere), April 4, 2014 (North America)
Official Site: http://www.marvel.com/captainamerica
© Copyright 2014 Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. All rights reserved

About the Author

Maurice Mitchell
Lover of science fiction and art.

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