Marvel‘s Agent Carter recently wrapped up its second season on ABC. While our fingers are crossed for a third, here’s something pretty cool to tide you over. Remember the substance that Isodyne was experimenting with in the show called Zero Matter? It was the moving black blob that, after a nuclear test, appeared and sucked the surrounding soldiers and vehicles into another dimension. Brilliant scientist Agnes Cully, a.k.a. Whitney Frost (who becomes Madame Masque in the comics) made contact with it, and gained the ability to absorb her enemies into her skin. Fellow scientist Jason Wilkes made contact and had trouble remaining corporeal. Then the Council of Nine tried to gain control over it. Zero Matter is dangerous stuff, which fans of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Dr. Strange will recognize as Darkforce.
Today, we have a video from WIRED’s Design FX video series that explains how the visual FX for Dark Matter were made by the company Double Negative. The substance, as it’s conveyed in the video, takes on various forms and does different things to different people. It freezes some of them, creating a crumbling effect. On some people, it crawls across the skin like veins and bubbles inside the mouth in liquid form. It appears to burn some people as well. In the case of Wilkes, it shifted him dimensionally, so you have to see him fade in and out. The effects company had to create Howard Stark’s “visual fixer,” so he could be seen in this dimension.
The big issue with the substance is that it’s “super black,” causing a lot of FX issues. It’s described as a cross between “liquid spiders and a sample of magnetic ferrofluid,” which they took on set to show the cast (a ferrofluid is a liquid that becomes strongly magnetized when put near a magnetic field). They even confided in a theoretical physicist from USC to provide the equations you see on the blackboards in the show, as well as the ideas for the containment devices. The one you see in the Isodyne lab, phasing the magnetic field in different directions, is inspired by real life devices.
The company Double Negative also created the “black hole” effect that swallows everything during the atomic test when Zero Matter first appears. They created a special “ray tracer” that bends light rays to produce the effect. They also had to do face and body mapping for 20 members of the cast to create the effect that Zero Matter has on people. They actually had to create a new tool to provide the visuals.
It’s so easy to take visual effects for granted when we see so many of them on the big and small screens. It’s fascinating to get a chance to pull back the curtain on things like this and see how it’s done. What did you think of the season? Are you going to have nightmares about the term “liquid spiders?” Are your fingers crossed for more Agent Carter? Tweet me/us @JennaBusch/@Nerdist and let us know!