One of the big nail-biting scenes of the new Iron Man 3 is the “barrel of monkeys” freefall, where Iron Man has only seconds to save a crew of 13 freefalling from a now-crashing Air Force 1. At first glance, you may think it’s some amazing CG and bluescreen work, but the reality is far more impressive. Involving a full team of parachuters and multiple jumps, the entire scene was actually done in-air and then touched-up for final results.
“I’ve worked on movies in the past where we’ve done fake free fall sequences, with vertical wind tunnels, people on wires, but by actually shooting it, you get the visceral, kinetic camera work that comes with actual free fall photography,” said Digital Domain VFX supervisor Erik Nash, who is an experienced sky diver himself. “It’s something that’s incredibly difficult to fake — the high-frequency camera shake that’s inherent to free fall photography. If you start with something photographed, it’s real, it’s believable and even if you change everything about it you’ve got a foundation.”
via ‘Iron Man 3′: The VFX that made the ‘barrel of monkeys’ scene soar [videos] | Hero Complex – movies, comics, pop culture – Los Angeles Times.
If you’re looking for VFX work and done mind the sunny beaches of South Florida, maybe you should consider Digital Domain who just reporting an additional $11Million in incentives, bringing their total to an impressive $135M in total incentives from the State of Florida & the cities of Port Saint Lucie and West Pam Beach.
”This recent award brings the total funding that we have received from our government partners to approximately $135.1 million in support of our business expansion,” said John Textor, CEO of Digital Domain Media Group. “As we deliver on the job creation promises we have made to the communities that support our growth, we benefit from a unique business model that utilizes these grants and economic incentives to greatly minimize the financial risk of such growth.”
via Digital Domain Media Receives Additional $11 Million in Economic Incentives | Reuters.
Digital Domain has acquired “In-Three” in order to add 2D-to-3D post-conversion to their portfolio of offerings. In-Three did the work for Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”, a box-office success that raked in over $1 billion worldwide, but was cited as not being the best example of 3D in the theater. That doesn’t deter Digital Domain CEO Cliff Plumer, tho:
“3D stereo movies exploded on the market this year,” added Digital Domain CEO Cliff Plumer. “Alice in Wonderland was a visually amazing 3D immersive experience, and TRON: Legacy will end the year with another dazzling 3D entertainment event. I have known Neil and the talented artists and technologists at In-Three for a long time. We will collaborate to provide the highest quality 3D stereo solutions to filmmakers.”
via Digital Domain Holdings Acquires In-Three.
The A-Team always did enjoy blowing stuff up or riddling harmless vehicles and scenery with bulletholes, and the new movie is no different. Bringing together the talents of Digital Domain, Prime Focus, MPC, Rhythm & Hues and more, an article on FXGuide discusses some of the more impressive shots from the film.
Digital Domain contributed about 100 visual effects shots featuring a digital tunnel, Baghdad backgrounds, composites and gunfire. “I thought they did a really nice job of set-dressing the street,” noted DD visual effects supervisor Kelly Port, “but we wanted to make sure that there were additional Middle Eastern elements like mosques in there off in the distance that helped make the skyline more realistic. We used Nuke for compositing and took advantage of Nuke’s 3D capabilities. We could re-project some photographic backgrounds onto some geometry and then re-photograph it with the foreground camera so that they tied together much better – the perspective is lined up perfectly and tracks perfectly.
The popular gaming physics engine “Bullet” (a competitor to Havok & PhysX) was instrumental in some of the effects shots created by Digital Domain for the destruction of Los Angeles in 2012. In an article on Millimeter they discuss how they first had to create the tool, before they could create the scene.
“It was obvious that off-the-shelf rigid body solvers wouldn’t work for this,” Leo says. “Hundreds of objects needed to tumble and shatter and break. To make the scale of that destruction believable we’d have to put in so much detail.”
This challenge led DD to develop a new simulation system called Drop. “Our software team built it around a fast, open-source engine called Bullet,” Leo says. “Bullet was the core solver, but we established a system for generating and breaking constraints and for assigning material properties to objects. That allowed us to do things that are very difficult for rigid body solvers, such as concave objects and organic shapes where collisions become very complicated. Drop is tremendously fast, and it allowed artists to iterate on a fairly long simulation in an hour or two. We were able to simulate tens of thousands of colliding objects.”
via 2012 Step by Step.
If you’re planning to graduate or change jobs in the next few years, you might want to consider moving to Port St. Lucie in Florida as Digital Domain (parent company Wyndcrest) have almost completed a deal to construct a new large visual effect studio down there.
The deal includes the city, also with the help of St. Lucie County, providing Wyndcrest with:
- $28 million in bond money for equipment and to build a studio.
- $3.8 million in bond money for training, workforce development and operational costs.
- $10 million in cash from developer money the city received originally earmarked for an Interstate 95 interchange on Open View Drive between Becker Road and Gatlin Boulevard.
- 15 acres valued at $10 million contributed to the city by Tradition developer Core Communities.
In return, Wyndcrest must create up to 500 full-time jobs with an average annual salary of $64,233 by 2014. Full-time in the agreement is considered 35 hours per week. However, John Textor, chairman of Wyndcrest, said a healthy animation studio could have up to 1,100 employees.
via PSL approves $51.8 million deal for visual effects studio» TCPalm.com.
A new ad for the Audi A4 2.0 TDIe that recently aired in Spain showcases some fantastic work by Digital Domain as the car slowly is constructed as if locked within a Rubik’s Cube and the pieces slowly come together.
Digital Domain paid extra attention to ensure the parts would fit together as seamlessly and logically as they would in real life, despite the fact that the futuristic Rubik’s Cube was grounded more in fantasy than reality. “We had a few discussions with the engineers at Audi regarding how everything would fit together,” continued Barton. “The further we went along in our animation tests, the build process became guided by the actual construction sequence as it happens at the Audi factory. Our team met with two factory-trained technicians from Audi who broke down a full engine, transmission and headlight assembly for us, laying everything out on a table so we could ask questions and take reference photographs.”
See the commercial at their site.
via Digital Domain and Director Carl Erik Rinsch Make Art for Audi.
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.
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.