Funny things about HUDs (Heads Up Displays) – the coolest ones are always found in movies and video games. A closeup view of Robert Downy Jr’s IronMan helmet with a contemporary F-15 Falcon HUD is going to look pretty silly – especially considering he’s a technological genius. What they failed to mention is that he must be a graphic and motion design genius as well in order to put all those toys together in such a slick package. I wonder if a shot of him sitting in front of the Adobe suite creating layer blends and glows is in the director’s cut?
While working at Digital Domain, our crack VFX team put together some special venue projects based on a futuristic game of baseball. All the players were decked out with helmets, armor, lit tattoos and of course computerized feedback systems – like the one pictured at the top. This is looking through the catcher helmet, zoomed in on a wily base-stealer.
Since the design is so heavy, you have to find a balance between what elements to bring forward in opacity and what can be pushed back to almost invisible. Priority hierarchy is paramount. Basically, dozens of elements were created as separate black and white mattes and given their look and animation in Nuke. This way we can lookdev and change whole color schemes with the flip of a node.
The original HUD I designed had a lot less going on in it. I like to make sure all graphical elements have purpose and context and were applicable to the user, and we didn’t want it too obtrusive to the core “message” of the shot (focus on the base stealer). As we kept piling on the scifi fun through the project, it became clear the HUD needed a boost too. Time was running out. In three days time, we designed, implemented and animated all the parts of the new “SuperHUD”, seen left.
If you love HUDs as much as I do – check out my page on Homefront where different types of HUDs are broken down even further.
Working with that crew was an amazing experience – if you want to see the whole shebang in action, here it is: https://vimeo.com/44039267