Computer Graphics World

JUNE 2010

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Virtual Environments n n n n of their artistic shoes did so primarily in London’s Soho district. Tom Wood, who had supervised visual effects at Te Moving Picture Company (MPC) for two Harry Potter films and Kingdom of Heaven, was overall visual effects supervisor. He parsed the major work for Prince of Persia into four relatively equal portions for MPC, Double Negative (DNeg), Framestore, and Cinesite. “Some shots had to be shared, but because it’s a chase movie, really—the hero and heroine move from W one place to another for most of the film—we could separate the work geographically,” Wood says. Actor Jake Gyllenhaal plays the hero Dastan, a street urchin adopted by a king and raised as a prince. Dastan warily joins forces with the feisty princess Tamina, played by Gemma Arterton, whose family protects the Sands of Time. In addition to sand effects, postproduction on the action-adventure-fantasy swirled around magical elements, the period setting, and the multiple locations. Double Negative handled the magic. Framestore hen a film has the word “sand” in its title, you can bet that, somewhere, a pile of visual effects artists spent months pushing particles around computer screens. For Prince of Persia: Te Sands of Time, a swashbuckler set in a mystical sixth century, the ones shaking digital sand out Throughout Prince of Persia, visual effects houses extended Moroccan landscapes and sets built in the UK by adding buildings to create cities, digital armies, and, of course, sand. created the vipers and, for the finale, filled a large trap room with sand and then emp- tied it. MPC built an enormous mythical city of Alamut and sent digital armies swarming over sand dunes. Cinesite surrounded live-action actors with two more digital cities and enhanced landscapes between. In addition, a fifth London studio, Nvizage, worked on previs, and its postproduction branch, Nvizible, helped with set extensions and weapon enhancements. Mike Newell, known for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, directed. Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films, the team that launched the $2.68 billion Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, produced the film. While Pirates drew its story from a theme-park ride, Prince of Persia owes its theme and a built-in fan base to a 2003 video game of the same name, one in a series of Prince of Persia third-person action games created by Jordan Mechner and first introduced in 1989 (see Editor’s Note, pg. 2). Mechner helped write the script for the film. Te plot device driving the story is a “dagger of time.” Inside the crystal hilt of this dagger is a vessel with the magic and powerful Sands of Time, a gift from the gods that can rewind time and allow its possessor to rule the world. Dastan gets his hands on it. Everyone wants it. But he and Tamina must protect it even while being chased by a crafty sheik, a master knife thrower, and deadly Hassasins trained to kill with scary weapons. Rewinding Time When Dastan pushes the jewel on the dagger, time stops, and he has an out-of-body experience dur- ing which he watches time go backward. When all the sand has drained out or he takes his thumb off the button, time goes forward again, and he re-enters his body to operate the future differently. June 2010 11

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