A new VFX studio is on the street today, built from the pieces of Ascent Media and CIS Visual Effects. Both owned by Deluxe Entertainment Services Group, they’ve been combined and renamed into Method Studios under the guidance of the new Executive Vice President Dan Glass and Weta Digitals CTO Paul Ryan, now the VP of Technology.
“By combining CIS with Method, we are able to provide our clients a broader range of visual effects services with an integrated workflow across Deluxe’s multiple locations,” said Stefan Sonnenfeld, President of Creative Services for Deluxe.
This new studio has offices in Los Angeles, Vancouver, New York, and London, making it an international venture with projects available to tap into tax incentives and resources around the world. Get all the details at their new site.
via Visual Effects Companies CIS and Method Form Global Powerhouse – BroadcastNewsroom.
An interview with CIS vfx supervisor Randy Goux discusses some of the work behind the movie ‘RED’. I particularly like the discussion around the popular trailer scene where they stop an RPG with a well-placed bullet to the tip. Explosions are a dime a dozen in VFX, but the slow-motion closeup of the exploding tip presenting some new challenges.
fxg: How did you bend the metal like that?
Goux: We actually used Maya’s cloth simulation. It’s weird telling people we bent metal that way, but it’s basically the dynamics module in Maya we’re using. We modelled the RPG, set it up as a cloth object and then you can define its tearing properties. You can have it tear like a paper bag or sheet metal or you can give it whatever threshold you like for the simulation. The sims went back and forth on how tense that metal was and how much we would reveal as the fireballs come out. There was also some fluid dynamics going on in the inner core, basically fire effects that curl around the ‘cloth’ objects. We also had to define how much mass the bullet going in had and how that correlated with the RPG. We pushed it a little further by animating a few hero pieces coming out towards the camera. The bulk of it was a dynamic simulation where you let the software do its course, but then we augmented that with some hero pieces animated in Maya and also in Nuke.
via fxguide – after effects:flame:nuke – R.E.D CIS Vancouver goes Badass.
Anything dealing with shots of the White House winds up with lots of heavy compositing and CG modeling, due to the security and secrecy. The film ‘Salt’ is no exception, and CIS Vancouver worked with several other groups to first previs the shots, and then gather the necessary live video and composite in the CG components.
Matchmove lead, Peter Hart worked with match mover, Kate Lee in tracking the plates. They created a simplified model from the point cloud and lined it up with the plates using Boujou. Earl and his team would keep adjusting the textures and lighting on the White House, rendering it out for the compositors to test in the plates. We had recently switched from Shake to Nuke, so everyone was a little new at the start of the project. It was amazing just how quickly they picked it up.
CGSociety – SALT.
The VFX of Marmaduke consisted largely of CG head replacement, done by Rhythm & Hues, CIS, and Cinesite. Over at FXGuide, they have interviews with all three studios on their contributions and how they built the amazing talking dog.
For the surfing sequence, one of the biggest challenges was achieving the right scale. “That’s always a game between how fast things should move,” said O’Neal. “Everybody usually wants a fast-paced sequence, but almost all of the surfing reference we had was shot in slow motion. It’s a cascading effect because once you start the speed of one thing, that drives the speed of everything else. We ended up having all kinds of challenges – how fast could it go to the camera and still have it feel realistic, how much camera shake can you give it without making it feel like a miniature? How explosive can the white water be to make it look really powerful but doesn’t make it look small because it's going too fast? A lot of it was timing and re-running simulations and checking things.”
via fxguide – visual effects news – Marmaduke.
The opening shot of Zombieland shows the US Capitol building in all its splendor, before slowly panning down to see the ruins and being mauled by a ravenous zombie. The scene was created by CIS Vancouver and required some extensive CG and compositing work, which they discuss with CGSociety.
We had to cut a few corners on our build, allowing textures to do more of the work than we would normally want. But 8 weeks was very tight no matter what approach you take and we wanted the end result to look good, so even though we cut a few corners, we invested our resources and time into the areas that needed it most.
Starting the build straightaway, Emond used Google Earth to get an idea for the correct position for all the buildings in the location so we could start blocking out the camera move. Hart continued to work with Paraszczynec and Emond throughout the process refining the matchmove, fixing bumps or slips that showed up from time to time.
via CGSociety – ZOMBIELAND.
The pivotal scene of “Men Who Stare At Goats” consists of a simple goat that seemingly dies from the menacing stare of George Clooney, using the power of his mind to stop the goat’s heart. The final shot consisted of a CG goat that had to seamless transition between the live action goat, but react realistically. CIS Hollywood talks about how they created this scene.
The digital goat was modeled and rigged in Maya. Explained Henke, “we posed the rig of the goat in the plate and further tweaked the model to match the live action goat. In addition we scanned the surrounding shots and lined up 3D cameras to gauge the model’s proportions from different views – we didn’t want to end up faking a part of the anatomy that matched the fore-shortening of the goat standing but became unappealing when the goat fell down.”
via CGSociety – Men Who Stare at Goats.
CIS Vancouver completed nearly 110 shots for the fantastic Zombieland, including the opening 90-second shot in deserted Washington, DC and a fun “Seat Belt” lesson. The Washington shot proved particularly difficult because of what the director wanted, but they describe the whole process in a great interview for AWN.
When they shot this, they didn’t quite know where the capitol building was going to be, but they did give us stills [for guidance]. The problem is that without doing that in a true 3D space, you have a capital building that has to be an accurate size to look real and they placed it based on where they wanted it to look cool. If you wanted it to be in those positions, you would need the capitol building to move freely in 3D space throughout the entire length of the shot. But then when you play it, it looks like it’s sliding around on wheels. So we had to find a middle-ground.
Getting into a Zombieland Mood | AWN | Animation World Network.
G.I.Joe: The Rise of Cobra was one of the summer’s biggest VFX hits and fxguide has a great collection of interviews with some of the VFX studios involved. Some tidbits:
Practical accelerator suits, constructed by Stan Winston Studio, were made available on set for reference and scanning. Digital Domain relied on 3D scanning company XYZ RGB, who used a combination of projected light and stereo reconstruction in a portable setup to create suit geometry.
CIS Hollywood & CIS Vancouver:
The Baroness, Storm Shadow and Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) attack the Pit in search of nanomite warheads. CIS created their subterranean approach using volumetric fluid dynamic simulations as they surprise a group of camels and a herder. “We called that the Tremors or Bugs Bunny gag as the characters hit the base with their mo-pods,” said Hoita. A small set was built for shots of the mo-pods piercing the Pit walls, which CIS augmented with a virtual environment. A massive fight ensues, with further digital environments, pulse weapons and a camouflague suit all part of the effects work.
Prime Focus VFX:
Prime Focus used its proprietary volumetric particle renderer, Krakatoa, to help create the nanomites and the plane’s disintegration. “Rather than rely on texture maps to make it look like something was eating away at the plane,” added Harvey, “we converted all our surfaces into full 3D geometry with volume so you would see metal being eaten away with internal structures and thickness.”
And more from MPC, CafeFX, and Framestore.
fxguide – vfx training – G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
Over at VFXWorld, Bill Desowitz has a great interview with John Dykstra on their work for Inglorious Basterds, including some real gems as how they made the spectacular burning-projection scene.
His initial idea was to have Shosanna’s image on screen and have the fire consume the image. Well, by traditional standards, you would set about doing that by shooting the screen and then shooting the fire as a separate element and doing an optical composite to put the two pieces together. But he wanted very much to have that happen in the environment with the audience watching the actors, the stunt people and the extras. So it was a challenge because, technically speaking, fire is very bright and if you want to have fire with any detail in it, you have to expose it in an f/8 or an f/11. And when you do a projected image, you’re limited by the brightness of the projector, and, of course, that usually is in the realm of an f/4 or f/5. So it was trying to figure out how to create this image in situ, which was one of his prerequisites, or at least that’s where he wanted to start, and make all of the components synchronize.
….. >> VFXWorld / Feature Articles << …...
A new press release has quotes and information from the six VFX studios that made the magic behind G.I.Joe. The studios include Digital Domain, CIS, MPC, Prime Focus (formerly Frantic Films), CafeFX, and Framestore. Not only is each studios contribution impressive, but the whole project is a testament to Autodesk’s new focus on interoperability between tools:
“Enabling creative collaboration is central to our software development strategy,” said Stig Gruman vice president of digital entertainment, Autodesk Media & Entertainment. “‘G.I. Joe’ is a perfect illustration of the success of our strategy. The movie showcases the work of six extremely talented visual effects studios which used a range of Autodesk tools to bring this massive project together and deliver an astounding visual result.”
Autodesk – Press Room – Press Releases.