VFX Artistry: A Visual Tour of How the Studios Create Their Magic [NOOK Book]

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First Published in 2009. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
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VFX Artistry: A Visual Tour of How the Studios Create Their Magic

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Overview

First Published in 2009. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Review for Pure Animation in Art Directors Club Newsletter (Feb.2008)
"Pure Animation provides wonderful insight into the process of creating great animation. Released in October 2007 by Merrell Publishers, Pure Animation showcases the works of 57 leading and up-and-coming animators from around the world. The animators featured employ various styles of animation, such as modeling, stop-motion, 2D, and 3D. For each animation artist or studio, Pure Animation includes a profile (with career highlights and credits) and a visual look at the creative development process. Bursting with more than 1,500 color screen grabs and complete with creative and technical details, Pure Animation is a must-have for all animation enthusiasts - beginners, professionals, and anyone interested in contemporary visual culture and new directions in graphic art and design."

Dave Kehr, New York Times DVD/film critic/editor:
"(Pure Animation is)...a knockout!"

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781136137334
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 1/25/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 192
  • File size: 12 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

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VFX ARTISTRY

A VISUAL TOUR OF HOW THE STUDIOS CREATE THEIR MAGIC
By Spencer Drate Judith Salavetz

Focal Press

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-08-091221-9


Chapter One

EYEBALL

STUDIO PHILOSOPHY

Eyeball is a multifarious design agency located in Soho, New York City. For 16 years, the team at Eyeball has designed and produced compelling strategic communications for corporations, broadcast networks, and advertising agencies. Our work ranges from commercial and film direction to branding, experiential, and interactive projects.

We take pride in keeping a fresh perspective while taking responsibility to tell unique stories. Our philosophy is to work simply to convey the chosen message. We do this artfully, thoughtfully, emotively, and most importantly, without ego. Ultimately, we provide a creative solution to overcome a business challenge.

TARGET: "ART FOR ALL"

Creative and Production Process Design/production studio Eyeball has completed a stunning new liveaction spot "art Expands," the latest in the "Art for All" campaign from Target and agency Catalyst Studios, Minneapolis, MN.

Bringing together the ancient Japanese art of origami and the movement of dance, "Art Expands" (:30) creates a world of expanding, twisting, and unfolding beauty. Beginning with a single dancer, the piece ventures into surreal landscapes and bursts of unusual movements that feature a whole troupe of amazing performers riffing on the expanding concept.

The first key to bringing the concept to life was selecting the renowned MOMIX dance company to star in the spot. MOMIX, and choreographer Moses Pendleton, were on both Eyeball's and Catalyst's wish lists, and are famous for their highly visual and surrealistic approach to modern dance. Eyeball's directors worked with Moses to select certain signature moves from MOMIX's many performances and cull them into a new sequence for this piece.

Eyeball then explored the world of modular origami, constructing many elaborate "paper" models in 3D that would bring dimension to the expanding and contracting concept. A minimal elegant world was set up to surround the dancers with different types of origami that would enhance and accentuate their movements.

The whole thing came together with a beautiful track from composer Michael Picton of Expansion Team, with a delicate, yet full of power and poise, mood.

"Working with the dancers was a blast," says Jory Hull, director and creative lead on the project. "Shooting physical performers at the peak of their abilities is always great fun. Being able to take all the of these great MOMIX visuals and creating a new piece out of it was really rewarding."

Credits

Director: Jory Hull

DP: Joe Arcidiciaono

Producer: Jenn Pearlman

Chief Creative: Limore Shur

Creative Director: Jory Hull

Executive Producer: Mike Sullo

Producer: Allison Pickard

Editor: Tom Downs

CG Director: Carl Mok

CG Modeling and Animation: Anthony Jones, Jin Yu

BIOSHOCK: BEYOND THE SEA

Creative and Production Process BioShock "looks so creepily fascinating" it may make the upcoming holiday season "an especially happy one" for Microsoft, according to The New York Times. With its thought-provoking plot, "unprecedented" levels of interactivity, and mind-blowing graphics, this 360 exclusive is being called "one of the most gripping, creative visions brought forth in video games for a long, long time." Considering the level of insider hype and advance praise for the game itself, the pre-launch commercial for the august 21 store release is expected to raise the buzz level even further.

Working in collaboration with ad agency RDA International on behalf of their client 2k Games, CG/design studio Eyeball NYC has crafted a compelling visual story to entice those anticipating the game's release. Challenged to distill BioShock's visual and graphic complexity into a 60second spot, Eyeball set out to create a commercial that would entertain general viewers, tantalize fans, and do justice to the ground-breaking nature of the game.

"This isn't just a commercial—this is an interpretation, a foreshadowing of [game creator] Ken Levine's epic story," said Eyeball's Creative Director and Founder Limore Shur, who co-directed the spot. "We wanted to thread together dramatic snippets that would give a real sense of what players will actually encounter in the game."

Forsaking the usual game trailer conventions—linear story arcs or all-out action—Eyeball takes the viewer on a cinematic romp through the mean streets of Rapture, the undersea city at the core of BioShock's plot. Creating suspense through erratic pacing and the power of suggestion, the Eyeball team took a nuanced approach befitting a game inspired by the likes of George Orwell and Ayn Rand. For example, in one of the spot's early action "snippets," the viewer is pulled face-to-face with a bubble-headed menace known as "big Daddy." Without a trace of gore or violent spectacle, a well-timed fade to black communicates everything about what it's like to tangle with one of these biomechanical monstrosities.

"This spot is more about surprise and grappling with the unknown than it's about shock value or any overt attempt to be creepy," Shur explained. "It's really more dramatic when you leave something to the imagination."

Animated "from scratch," the scenes in the spot were essentially built around Ken Levine's "wish list"—specific features he hoped would be highlighted in Eyeball's 3D visual summary of the game.

Because Levine put so much effort into constructing a gaming environment that would "behave" in a realistic manner, the BioShock commercial was expected to follow suit. Whether meticulously color scripting, fitting mannequins with clothing to accurately depict the movement of a character's garments, or tracing light rays, Eyeball's design team went to great lengths to achieve a level of realism seldom seen even in gaming commercials.

"We pulled out every trick and technique for this one," said Eyeball CG Director Stuart Simms, the spot's Co-Director. "The characters had to hold up visually even in extreme close-ups so displacement and normal maps were sculpted using Z-Brush and Mudbox. We had some very talented artists creating the soup of VFX—gunfire, explosions, smoke, sparks, and water effects from foot splashes to ocean surfaces—we wanted to get it all in there to give the viewer a true sense of the experience they would have playing the game."

Lead Animator Rick Vicens said, "This was all about collaborative effort—with all the talent here, everyone brought something to the table. We really pushed the boundaries of CG on this one—I hope people will want to watch this spot again and again."

Credits

Creative Director/Director: limore Shur

Creative Manager: Hyejin Hwang

CG/animation Director/CoDirector: Stuart Simms

art Director: Mauricio leon

Character TD: Joe Gunn

lead Modeler: Caius Wong

Modeler: Joon lee, Dustin Hansen, Henry Minott, Johannes Kraemer

Lead animator: Ricardo Vicens

FX TD: allan Mckay

lead FX artist: Jacques Tege

3D FX artist: Steve Green

Chapter Two

INTELLIGENT CREATURES

STUDIO PHILOSOPHY

Intelligent Creatures is an artist-driven visual effects house dedicated to helping some of cinema's finest directors tell some of their most compelling stories, working on such films as Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Stranger Than Fiction, Babel, Hairspray, and Watchmen. With a fully integrated 2D compositing and 3D animation pipeline and a wealth of on-set experience, the company stands among the industry's most progressive VFX creators. We work closely with our clients to ensure that both creative and budgetary needs are met. Intelligent Creatures relentlessly pursues its mission to be the leading company in the world providing visual effects that play a strong supporting role in high-end, creatively driven feature films.

BABEL

Creative and Production Process One of the most challenging shots Intelligent Creatures tackled was the final scene in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Babel. Intelligent Creatures recreated the entire Tokyo skyline digitally to replicate a helicopter shot. Logistics weren't working in favor for production, so VFX was called in to support the Director's vision.

The concern for IC's Visual Effects Supervisor Lon Molnar was that the plate was being shot at 31 stories, minimizing his flexibility. Also at stake was a tight schedule so Babel could be delivered in time for Cannes.

This shot was going to be the exclamation point for the Director—it was placed as the last shot leading to the credits, so the pressure was on to keep the audience caught up in the emotional moment and keep the shot completely unnoticed as a visual effects shot.

They had a crane mounted to a dolly track on the roof of the building, with a Libra head so we could swing it over to the floor below. Says Molnar, "We pushed the dolly slowly out, extending 30 feet, then locked the camera down, yet kept rolling so we can pick up the move in 3D."

Lon then scouted an "end" position within another high-rise, and shot plates and high-resolution images from there so we could map the entire hero building and surrounding area. He also spent some time shooting film footage of moving elements such as cars, boats, and helicopters, knowing they'd have to give this shot life once ported over to the digital world. In addition, he took high-resolution stills mapping a 360-degree panorama from the roof to build a texture library for recreating the cityscape back at their Toronto studio.

Back at the studio, the collective of skilled artists utilized tools mainly by Photoshop for matte painting, Boujou to track the plate, Maya to model the city and to create the extended helicopter camera move, and then Digital Fusion for final compositing. At IC's studio, Associate Visual Effects Supervisor Lev Kolobov devised a map layout of the actual area, thanks to Google Earth, to begin planning the construction of blocks and the completion of the camera move.

A "post-vis" of the shot was constructed to help block in the move for editorial timing and composition. During this time IC's combined braintrust realized the execution would be better treated entirely in CG, meaning that the live action plate of the actors would have to be brought in to help transition the handoff of the live action camera move to the digital camera move.

"The main challenge with the rig was timing. How we were going to get the camera to slow to a stop that could be easily transitioned to our CG takeover; at the same time we had to capture the performance of the actors that was preferred by Alejandro," VFX Supervisor Lon Molnar explains. "The handoff needed to have a smooth transition. We also needed the camera move to speed up over time so we can pull out to a wide shot of Tokyo within a certain time. We realized this ramp was going to be impossible unless we brought the entire shot into the digital world to give it more flexibility in order to deliver the director's vision."

Our lead modeler had an architectural background and was put to the task of leading a team to rebuild the city, taking into account compositional changes. At this point, it still needed to feel like Tokyo, yet we took some creative liberty to improve the composition over the entire move. The main building was important to nail perfectly, as were some of the surrounding buildings, to blend in with other shots in the film.

IC also had a team of excellent matte painters to create textures for multiple projections. The actors were roughly modeled to project back into 3D, and the main plate was required.

According to Molnar, "Most of my attention was focused on level of realism. I spent a few nights on the roof in Tokyo, just taking in the view, studying the skyline for details. One thing that became very noticeable was the reflections and the air traffic lights everywhere. The city was lit up like a Christmas tree." Replicating that back at the studio was a priority. These elements would assist IC with selling the shot to the audience. They also supported the fact that location shooting needs to exist in some capacity in order to absorb the location to help recreate the reality.

Lev Kolobov mainly focused on motion. He recreated moving lights, streetlights appearing and disappearing, street level traffic—"pin light passes" as he coins it, simulating a real moving camera.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from VFX ARTISTRY by Spencer Drate Judith Salavetz Copyright © 2010 by Elsevier, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Focal Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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