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It’s ten years since the world got a first taste of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, and one thing that is certainly still in the mind of many audience members is the hero’s heads-up display, or HUD. The HUD is seen inside the helmet of the different ‘Marks’ of the Iron Man suits and in the Iron Monger suit worn by Jeff Bridges’ villain Obadiah Stane, and of course in subsequent Iron Man and Avengers outings. Some might say, too, that the original designs from the 2008 Jon Favreau film influenced many HUDs in other different movies.
While the creation of the original HUD in Iron Man certainly paved the way for future designs, the task would prove to be incredibly challenging for the film’s visual effects team. What should it look like? How would it work? How would it be created? Initial positive results by visual effects studio The Orphanage hit a stumbling block part-way through post-production, and a decision to adopt a new compositing system also required a steep learning curve. But the final results speak for themselves.
On the tenth anniversary of Iron Man and with the release of Avengers: Infinity War, vfxblog asked several members of that original HUD creation group how they made a visual effect for the ages.