Computer Graphics World

May/June 2014

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26 ■ CGW M ay / Ju n e 2 014 FEATHERING ©2014 PARAMOUNT PICTURES CORP. AND REGENCY ENTERTAINMENT. the story is epic and centuries old. Noah is forewarned that a Great Flood is coming and will wipe out mankind. He is then instructed to build an ark and usher aboard breeding pairs of animals and birds so that life can begin anew after the deluge. The feat required to bring Director Darren Aronofsky's vision of this biblical tale to the big screen required cutting-edge digital technology, particularly when it came to the flood and the animals and birds. ILM handled the digital animals and water, while Look Effects created the effects for the Garden of Eden sequence, including a matte painting of the Tree of Knowledge, the apple, the serpent, and all the birds. Thousands and thousands in a multitude of species. Large birds, small birds. Birds of prey, birds of peace. Individual birds, flocks of birds. And, feathers. Lots of feathers. In fact, every bird in Noah is digital except for two doves and a raven. To handle the work, Look devised two major systems from the ground up: one for feathering and another for flocking. The biggest challenge was designing the birds so they would generate enough volume to make it appear as if Noah had collected two of every bird on Earth. The artists started with a few hero birds and built 14 different body types. From each of those, they created a number of unique grooms. "By varying overall color and size, we were able to give the impression of a tremendous amount of diversity from a relatively small number of base birds," says Dan Schrecker, VFX supervisor. For shots with more distant birds, the team used its flocking system, which enabled the artists to populate scenes with as many as two million birds. As the camera gets closer, they hand- animated hero birds. All told, the animators worked on over 3,000 individual, hand-animated birds, starting with key ranges of motion that were fed into the flocking system. These then served as a starting point for the hand-animated hero birds. A key aspect of the bird work was Look's use of Deep com- positing. Used for the first time on a large scale for the live- action VFX film Rise of the Planet of the Apes by Weta, Deep allows compositors to work in 3D space in a way that provides added flexibility and functionality that would not be available in a normal 2D compositing approach. "Simply put, without our use of Deep compositing, we would not have been able

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