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October 2013

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Bits & Pieces Mokko creates 300+ VFX for Riddick M Ghost Town collaborates with Linkin Park L OS ANGELES — Ghost Town Media (http:// recently partnered with the American rock band Linkin Park to create a new music video for their recently-released track, "A Light That Never Comes." The project reunited Ghost Town principal/creative director Brandon Parvini with Linkin Park programmer and turntable-ist Joe Hahn, who also served as the video's director. "Brandon and I have been collaborating for years now," says Hahn. "We have a common shorthand for visual styles that we're both into, and we're always exploring new techniques for videos and visuals." Hahn says he and Parvini have long been interested in the 3D capture possibilities afforded using technology such as Microsoft Xbox Kinect and Artec's 3D scanner. The concept for A Light That Never Comes was based on using these techniques, where a live image could exist in digital space. "It reminded me of the concept of singularity by Ray Kurzweil," says Hahn of the music video's premise. "A virtual reality playground that could be better or bigger than real life itself." In the video, a girl enters a computer-based world that is inhabited by a controller — the band. Each city within the small world represents the DNA of a respective band member, and was created differently than the others. The girl tries to navigate through the environment, coming across different environments and avatars, all of which range in resolutions. At press time, Hahn and Ghost Town were getting close to completing the 3:52 project for its October 9 premiere online and on MTV. "Pre-production, production and post was happening at same time," Hahn explains. "We started with scans of each guy, and Ghost Town started designing worlds. It requires a lot of computer fire power." 4 Post • October 2013 The team employed new Dell Precision workstations with Nvidia Quadro cards on the project, which Hahn says gave them lots of room for making changes. "We decided that we didn't want to do anything involving a camera," notes Ghost Town's Parvini of the production process. "We've been watching scanning technology. We did not want to use footage, but instead do it all through digital acquisition — scan and clean up." Parvini says the Ghost Town team captured the guys performing the song, and created 3D models that were then mapped onto the source RGB footage. The video's computer world was created using Maxon Cinema 4D. The environment's architecture made used of high fidelity images. Creatures and people have "a more scattered look," he notes. "Scene files were absolutely massive," says Parvini. "200 million polygons for a scene file!" At full tilt, the studio had a team of 10 working on the video, though the base team was a steady stable of four generalists doing model, lighting, and texture work. Four Dell Precision workstations were used for modeling and animation during the day, and at night were then designated to rendering duties. The T5610 and T7610 towers were outfitted with two Nvidia Quadro K6000 GPUs each, and were paired with 30-inch and 24-inch Dell UltraSharp monitors. Parvini also used a Dell M6800 mobile workstation with the Nvidia Quadro K5100M for work at home. "We have a good relationship [with Linkin Park] that affords us these opportunities," says Pavini. "We are excited to break new ground and take big risks. Music videos are not a great market for us to hang out in for long periods of time, but we always pick up the phone when Joe calls. It's a labor of love... It's not about money. We want to entertain people." By Marc Loftus ONTREAL — VFX house Mokko Studio (, here, created more than 25 minutes of content for Universal's Riddick, the other-worldly feature film starring Vin Diesel. The studio worked closely with director David Twohy for more than a year to create 321 shots for the film. Led by studio co-founder Alain Lachance, a crew of more than 100 artists handled extensive creature work on the film's mud demons and jackals, including pups. Mokko also built five different sets, including full-CG environments and matte paintings. Working from original drawings and basic creature designs by Patrick Tatopoulos, Mokko art director Arnaud Brisebois and a team of modelers and texture artists further pushed the designs, creating ZBrush sculpts for the director, who used them to judge proportions and size before the final modeling stage. "It was important for us and production to base our art on nature, on something plausible, even if we were on a different planet," notes Lachance. "Nothing was left to improvisation, from the bone structure necessary to have the jackal's ears open in a very specific way that the director had imagined, to the mud demons' breathing holes in their tails." Mokko's pre-production work also included extensive R&D testing to develop tools and techniques for water and mud simulations. After extensive testing and tweaking of their Renderman pipeline, the studio chose Autodesk's Naiad for the water simulation and Yeti Fur for the jackals' hair. One of the most difficult aspects of the film was creating a believable performance for Riddick's pet jackal.

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