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July 2013

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editor's note Even more of The Lone Ranger W By Randi Altman EDITOR-IN-CHIEF P O S T hile our cover story this month is about ILM's work as lead VFX house on Gore Verbinski's The Lone Ranger, from Disney Studios, London's MPC (www. also provided a significant amount of shots, 550 to be exact, ranging from full CG canyons and caves to Comanche attacks, CG trains, horses, birds, arrows, fire and scorpions. I asked MPC VFX supervisor Gary Brozenich to describe some of the work the studio provided. He points to the sequence at the start of the movie, where John Reid wakes up to find himself high up on the Spirit Platform. "Our team extended the height of the canyon and narrowed the width to give a more dramatic feel to the shot. John is surrounded by our CG flies looking over a CG reinterpretation of the valley from Dead Horse Point, Utah. As the camera pulls away you see a full CG landscape with added Anasazi Ruins, which were photographic elements sourced on location." The MPC modeling team created a CG train for the scene where character Rebecca Reid climbs out from the train onto a bridge. "We merged studio shot plates and the CG train with our full CG environments. The tricky part was combining all of these elements together with a fast-moving digital background and keeping them 100 percent photoreal." For the shot where The Lone Ranger and Tonto are buried up to their necks in the ground, MPC cre- ated CG scorpions, which come up from the ground and crawl all over their faces. The scorpions were created with some high-end shader work and development, tech animation and MPC's proprietary hair and fur software, Furtility. They also worked on the scene where a stampede of Comanches are shot down by Gatling guns. "You're no longer allowed to use large amounts of real horses in this type of movie sequence, as the horses and riders could be injured," explains Brozenich. That's where MPC came in. "There were these amazing Native American stunt riders, shot on-set, charging down quite a steep hill. Our team took the plate footage of the riders and rearranged it with the movie's editor." MPC used a mixture of mocap animation and rigid body simulations, as well as CG horses jumping over the camera. They also added some trees shattering around the hill as bullets fly. MPC used Autodesk Maya as a basis for much of its work and called on Nuke for compositing, as well as lots of other software. "We also have a great R&D team here who create proprietary tools, which are invaluable to our work," explains Brozenich. In addition to the aforementioned Furtility for hair, fur and feathers, other proprietary tools include Kali for destruction and Alice for crowd work. See page 12 for details on ILM's work. 2 en Ashe is the new GM at ZapBoomBang Studios in Houston, an audio and video production studio and post house that specializes in commercial work, and one that hopes to expand into long-form and corporate work too. When I spoke with Ashe, he'd been at the studio for just three weeks, but his career actually spans more than three decades. He founded Match Frame in Texas many years ago, which later became 1080, Inc. "We created a production and post facility in the middle of America and were extremely blessed," he says of the San Antonio studio. "We came along at the right time and had a lot of terrific clients help build us up." In 1998, Ashe moved to manage the company's Austin division. In 2007 he headed to LA, where as an executive producer, he helped bring in long-form work, including programs for National Geographic and Discovery. There was even a time that 1080 considered expanding to Miami, but Hurricane Katrina ruined those plans. "We were so close to doing that, Post • July 2013 Marc Loftus Senior Editor/Director of Web Content (516) 376-1087 Christine Bunish Film& Video JENNIFER WALDEN Audio BOB PANK European Correspondent DanIEL Restuccio West Coast Bureau BARRY GOCH West Coast Blogger/Reporter IAIN BLAIR Film Michael Viggiano Art Director A DV E RT I S I N G Mari Kohn Director of Sales (818) 291-1153 cell: (818) 472-1491 Gary Rhodes Eastern & Intl Sales Manager (631) 274-9530 cell (516)410-8638 Lisa Black Corporate Sales Executive, Events, Custom and Integrated Print/Publishing Services (818) 660-5828 Customer Service 620 West Elk Ave, Glendale, CA 91204 (800) 280 6446 Witnessing change By MARC LOFTUS SENIOR EDITOR Randi Altman Editor-in-Chief (516) 797-0884 SUBSCRIPTIONS (818) 291-1158 S C R I P T K EDITORIAL but it was going to be too costly," he recalls. "The hurricane drove up the cost of supplies. Literally, that's what pulled us out of that deal." Change, says Ashe, is the one constant he's witnessed. "The model for the kind of business we had done for so long just doesn't quite work anymore. You see post houses around the country that are struggling to survive. It was a good model for many, many years, but as the equipment decreased in cost and editors became ubiquitous, the challenge was to keep up with the competition." Today's business, he feels, is being increasingly driven by talent. And that's one of the reasons he joined ZapBoomBang. "We have a pool of talent that we are really proud of," he notes. "It's all about talent management these days. The ultimate goal is to get the creative onto the screen. Technology changes every week. It's getting that guy, who has in his head that fantastic thing. That's the most important thing — that creative talent." MIKE TABIZON Account Manager (818) 291-1180 REPRINTS Reprints (781) 255-0625 • (818) 291-1153 LA SALES office: 620 West Elk Avenue, Glendale, California 91204 (800) 280-6446 William R. 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