Computer Graphics World

May/June 2014

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C G W M ay / Ju n e 2 014 ■ 25 Worlds Apart The expansive dragon world provoked big creative as well as technical challenges. "Most of our dragons have wings and tails," Otto says. "Some have multiple wings. Some are gigantic, some are tiny. We had numerous dragons, dragon armies, and human armies. Armies from different areas of the world. Bringing that through rigging and animation into lighting scenes with thousands of characters put a giant burden on the pipeline, and then doing that with new-generation software was a technical challenge. But, we wanted to expand the dragon world." "Even though it's a caricatured and larger-than-life world, we still render it with surfacing and textures that make it believable," De Blois says. "And, the special effects, the natural movement of water, smoke, and snow, adds so much credibility to the world. It envelops you as a live-action experience." DeBlois imagines a next generation of tools that would bring the live action feeling even closer. "The next step might be having a setup in which the lighters work concurrently with the animators so they can animate to the lighting. They could make sure the shadows fall where they want, the light reflects prop- erly in the eyes. Everything could play to the lighting setup as much as possible. And if lighters could tweak the lighting early while the animators are animating, it would be even better." That's the next step. For now, DeBlois believes the genera- tion of tools newly implemented for this film have had a big impact. "The decision to age up the characters by five years allowed us to redesign the characters," he says. "So, they have more nuance because we have more tools to give them subtle expressions. The biggest contribution of the new tools are that they allowed artists to work with their hands again, as if they had a clay model right in front of them. They can do multiple iterations and see immediate results. That allowed us to refine the animation to an incredible degree. And on top of that, we had real-time renders. The surfacing is amazing because we had time. If you compare the first film to the second, I think you can really see the difference." The maturation of the animation and lighting tools, which has opened new ways of working for the animators and lighting artists, parallels the story in the film they worked on. "What makes me proud is that we managed to not do the same thing we did in the first film," Otto says. "We took it further. We grew up the world and the characters, we grew up the universe – even tonally. That was the pivotal thing." ■ CGW Barbara Robertson is an award-winning writer and a contributing editor for CGW. She can be reached at These are some of the exciting topics that will be covered in the July/August issue of Computer Graphics World magazine Going Ape: Advances in hair simulation and motion capture. Movie Madness: The visual effects and animation that are creating a buzz at the cineplex. Machinima: In this burgeoning world, content creators use real-time game engines to create cinematic productions. CG on TV: Enter the storybook-themed television shows where VFX play a magical role. Education Supplement: Preparing the next generation of VFX artists and animators. COMPUTER GRAPHICS WORLD NEXT ISSUE CONTACT YOUR SALES REP FOR MORE DETAILS. Mari Kohn, Director of Sales 818.291.1153 or Lisa Black, Corporate Marketing & Advertising Sales Executive 818-660-5828 or William R. Rittwage, President/CEO • 818-291-1111 or

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