Computer Graphics World

July/August 2014

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14 cgw j u ly . a u g u s t 2 0 1 4 martial arts. And in one scene, when Mikey [Michelangelo] needed to defl ect tranquilizer darts with a nunchuck, we found Bruce Lee shots we could use as reference." The turtles move through sewers on their backs. Michel- angelo has a rocket-powered skateboard. And in one action sequence, the turtles luge down a snowy mountain in an entirely CG environment that included semi-trailer trucks, Suburbans, and an out-of-control Humvee. "The interaction of the snow is pretty spectacular," Weaver says. "We had a base snow layer, turtles sliding on their shells, cars spinning around and tumbling, chunks of snow and ice being kicked up. It was quite a process hitting the aesthetic the director wanted." The eff ects team used tools within ILM's proprietary Zeno for giant volumes of powdery snow and clumping snow, Side Eff ects So ware's Houdini for streaky particle eff ects, and ILM's Plume for smoke and steam in these and other shots. Compositing was through deep fi les in The Foundry's Nuke. Pixar's Render- Man handled the rendering. "A year and a half ago we moved to [Solid Angle's] Arnold and did a lot of hard-surface modeling," Weaver says. "Arnold was great for Star Trek, and they've made some advances since we purchased the so - ware. But on this show, we used RenderMan for everything. Pixar has made some pretty stagger- ing leaps in raytracing effi cien- cies. And, we hit a new level of realism with our scattering and refractions. When the camera is inches away, the turtles' eyes look photoreal. I'm really proud of how that came out." There are two big martial arts sequences in the movie. One is between the sensei rat Splinter and the Shredder, a character covered in blades. It's set in the turtles' sewer-based underground lair. "Splinter is four feet tall and Shredder is six feet," Harrington says. "So it was big versus little. We found cool ways to use Splinter's tail and Shredder's blades." The second big sequence, a dramatic fi ght atop the Conde Nast building, takes place in Times Square. "That was a change in location from where we originally shot," Weaver says. "We had anticipat- ed needing to replace portions of the buildings for the fi ght, but it ended up in a place we didn't shoot. So, I'd say that envi- ronment is 98 percent CG. It's interesting. As the years go by, I fi nd we typically use less and less of what we originally shot." With that in mind, the crew had documented the area in case the story changed. "Part of our job is to give the fi lmmaker fl exibility," Helman says. "No one wants to hear that we can't do an insert. We have to make sure all these things happen." In addition to his role as visual eff ects supervisor, Helman did four weeks of second-unit directing. "We built Times Square from scratch using two weeks of second unit plate photography," Helman says. "It's incredible. We have cycles of people walking around taking pictures, looking at the fi ght 54 stories up. We have the turtles looking down from the scaff olding, almost falling. You can't tell it's all-CG." L O O K I N G A H E A D Helman, who has been part of the VFX industry since 1995 and a VFX supervisor since 2001, is excited about the impact of the new motion-capture system on ILM's work in this fi lm. "This is a great way for the visual eff ects industry to be embedded deeper into the production side of fi lmmak- ing," Helman says. "We aren't just exploding something. The visual eff ects are carrying the movie, telling the story from an emotional point of view. In this movie, we collaborated with the director, writers, creature designers, and the production designer. We were part of dis- covering these characters. The reason we all came to visual eff ects is to do fi lmmaking. We like making movies, telling stories. This gave us a great opportunity to do fi lmmaking." Helman provides an example from the fi lm. "There is an emo- tional scene at the end in which we understand what it's like to be four outcast brothers who don't understand why things are the way they are," he says. "We were part of that. That's why this system is important." ¢ P E R F O R M A N C E C A P T U R E DONATELLO (DONNIE) IN THE PURPLE MASK FOLLOWS A BLURRY MICHELANGELO (MIKEY). IN DIALOG-DRIVEN SCENES, ACTORS PLAYING THE TURTLES USED LIFTS TO STAND TURTLE HIGH. IN TURTLE-DRIVEN ACTION SCENES, THAT WASN'T NECESSARY. Barbara Robertson is an award-winning writer and a contributing editor for CGW. She can be reached at BarbaraRR@comcast.net. VIDEO: GO TO EXTRAS IN THE JULY/AUGUST 2014 ISSUE BOX C G W. C O M

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