Computer Graphics World

September/October 2013

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Page 45 of 52

World In the science-fiction television series Defiance, Earth is a very different place than we know today. A galactic war incident drastically changes the topology and biosphere of the planet, leading to the extinction of native plants and animals, and introducing new, deadly species. In this new land, hellbugs, Saberwolves, and Volge mercenaries are among the extraordinary, exotic, and vicious creatures that roam the Earth in this period. St. Louis is now a place called Defiance, and its human residents must coexist with survivors of eight different Votan races. To quickly convey this complex, multi-faceted story line, Defiance (airing on the Syfy Network) depends heavily on 3D animated creatures, virtual environments, and visual and physical effects. "To successfully immerse viewers in Defiance, our virtual environments need to be captivating, cohesive, and credible, says Gary Hutzel, visual effects " supervisor for Defiance. The first season, which began April 15, 2013, required 1,100 visual effects scenes and extensive greenscreen compositing to create the credible world that synthesized recognizable elements of Earth with menacing, mutant, and alien forms. Working under the time constraints of an intense produc- tion schedule, Hutzel and his lean team of CG artists leveraged NewTek's LightWave 3D to design, build, and animate the lion's share of the series' effects. "We were given the tall order of creating a massive number of new and modified assets. So it's astonishing how few people we have creating this much work on the schedule, says CG Artist Jesse " Toves. "Two trends converged to make this possible. First, the 3D software matured to the point where we're confident we can find a solution to most common and more complex visual effects problems. Second, our CG artists have gelled into a tight-knit group of professionals whose experience and expertise with LightWave and many other applications make collaboration second nature. We tend to be generalists capable of handling every aspect of the visual effects sequences required by Defiance. " Throughout the process, the CG team tackled and solved many creative challenges and problems. Some of the series' 3D creatures and virtual environments first appeared in the 84-minute pilot, but most of the individual episodes featured entirely new CGI environments, revealing more of the world as the season progressed. These creatures, plus entirely new ones yet to be imagined, will likely appear in season two. "There isn't enough money in the world to build Order Using CGI to create the altered Earth landscape in Defiance By Claudia Kienzle C G W S e p t e mb e r / O c t o b e r 2 013 ■ 43

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