Computer Graphics World

March/April 2013

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CG Characters n n n n Despite wicked business machinations grinding in the background, Digital Domain artists produced all the film's fairy-tale giants – 15 unique characters, of which eight, including the two-headed monster, had starring roles with dialog. From those, the crew created a crowd that sometimes included as many as 100 giants and provided them with costumes, complete with cloth simulations. The Moving Picture Company (MPC) artists grew the beanstalk, a giant creature that rockets out of a farmhouse in one sequence and out the belly of a giant in another. Each of these studios developed new technology and new techniques to accomplish the work. For Digital Domain, an evolution of the virtual production system used on Real Steel, new skin shading techniques, and HDR imaging. For MPC, tricks for rendering a behemoth beanstalk. Pre-cap At Digital Domain, Visual Effects Supervisor Stephen Rosenbaum brought his experience working on Avatar to the crews located in Venice, California, and Vancouver, Canada. On-set Supervisor Swen Gilberg brought his experience at Digital Domain on Real Steel to virtual production. "I came on as principal photography started," Gilberg says. "While Stephen ran things on the West Coast, I spent five months in England working with Hoyt Yeatman [overall visual effects supervisor] on set. The idea was similar to what we did for Real Steel, but more rushed. Do mocap first, put that into a blocking previs. Then, put that in a virtual space that matches where you would later shoot. We did the 'pre-cap' in two weeks before principal photography." To do the pre-cap, Giant Studios and Digital Domain shipped their equipment and crews to England, where principal photography would take place. The Giant Studios crew handled the body capture and virtual camera, while at the same time, the Digital Domain crew used a proprietary system dubbed Beatrice to capture facial expressions for the actors playing the CG giants: Bill Nighy as the main General Fallon head and John Kassir as General Fallon's small head, Cornell John as Fee, Andrew Brooke as Fye, Ben Daniels as Fumm, and Philip Philmar as the giant cook. "We used four cameras to capture the faces," Rosenbaum says, "two cameras on either side, which gave us true 3D information. We could see the jaw line, see how the lips curled out with certain words. The thing I'm most proud of in this show is that the actors' performances came through." The animation team, led by Jan Philip Cramer, worked with a new facial rigging system to create the digital performances. "We did a FACs session using OnLive's Mova system," Rosenbaum says. "Mova gave us a dynamic mesh during every expression so the modelers could see the face deformed in specific At far left, new subsurface scattering algorithms helped Digital Domain create multi-layered lighting for the giants. Above, HDRI images captured on set (right) helped MPC insert a beanstalk with correct lighting in the final image (left). poses on a 3D model. The new facial rigging system had between 1,500 to 2,000 face shapes because we needed that level of control to get the subtleties in the actors' performances. [Principal Engineer] Nick Apostoloff developed a new solving algorithm that greatly improved the accuracy of the data from the performances that drove the face shapes." To perform the two heads on one body, Nighy and Kassir stood next to each other. "We would do real-time solves of the performances to see the characters through the virtual camera," Rosenbaum says. "Not the faces. Those were static." During the capture, Singer could direct the actors and see simple CG versions of the giants mimicking their actions. "We had previs-style backgrounds that accurately matched the geometry of the location, so he could properly frame the shot," Gilberg says. "Normally, we do a capture session, then Images courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures. March/April 2013 CGW0313-Jackpfin.indd 25 25 3/14/13 12:15 PM

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