Computer Graphics World

July/August 2014

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34 cgw j u ly . a u g u s t 2 0 1 4 the crew made a combination real/CG character. Creating the hybrid required filming the actor's reactions and mapping them onto the CG character so that her face was real but the rest of her body was not, and then cutting that combination character with actual reactions of the actor in costume. The end result was a transparent ghost that was active, powerful, and scary, says Orloff. Other CG characters included a whale, werewolf, wolf pack, Medusa, Ursula, ghosts, fairies, dragons, a giant turtle, and even a dementor-like character. "We have done a lot of diverse character work for Once Upon A Time," Orloff notes, "bugs, snakes, critters on land and on water…the list goes on." Hand-in-hand with the magic effects are the physical reac- tions to those magic effects. "Oen we are augmenting or cleaning up and adding to physical effects," says Orloff. "For instance, the Blue Fairy is a combination of a real and CG character – an actor suspended on wires with CG wings. We do everything we can to ground the effects in reality." An average show contains between 300 and 400 visual effects shots, and those can go as high as 700 to 750. Some of the more memora- ble work on the show, in Orloff's opinion, occurred in Season 2. The first sequence was with Pinocchio, where he and Gepetto are on a stormy ocean and are swallowed by a whale. For this scene, the person playing Gepetto was filmed on a practical ra in a water tank, while Pinocchio and the whale were CG characters. Practical wind and wave effects provided turbulence, while Zoic added CG water that was a simulation created by Fusion CI Studios using Next Limit's RealFlow to extend the water environ- ment. "That was so incredibly challenging from a logistical and an animation standpoint," Orloff says, noting that Pinocchio was mocapped but the whale was animated by hand. Another complex scene had Peter Pan's shadow, a virtual character, grabbing a live char- acter (on wires) and dragging the person as they flew through the CG streets of Victorian Lon- don. "We had to build an entire period London that was huge in scale to accommodate the fly- through," Orloff says. "Planning was really critical to get the shots we wanted because we had a minor up on the rig and a stunt situation, along with all the CG." Animatics and a lot of con- cept work helped the group per- fect the timing of this wild ride over the chimneys and rooops, with Big Ben and the Thames visible in the background. To build these and other environments, and to create the characters and effects, the artists use Maya and Nuke, part of the ZEUS pipeline. Some procedural modeling is done, but the majority is block and tackle modeling with assets pulled from the image library built over the years. Scenes are rendered with V-Ray from Chaos Group. "We generate a set of layered EXRs that have a bunch of different passes, including all the separate lighting passes," explains Orloff. "With that, we can make lighting adjust- ments in Nuke without having to go back to the CGI. That is something Mike Romney, head of pipelines here at Zoic, made happen by working directly with Chaos to ensure we would have all our passes put together with proprietary Nuke scripts that can read and combine those passes automatically." Texturing is done using Pixo- logic's ZBrush, with Autodesk's Mudbox used from time to time along with Photoshop. Visiting far-off lands and dealing with a wide range of creatures and characters is a weekly occurrence on Once Upon A Time, and there's very little that the series' creators can throw at Orloff that sur- prises him. "We let the creative drive the process, and we are always ready," he adds. MOST OF THE INDOOR SETS TAKE PLACE ON A GREENSCREEN STAGE WITH LIMITED PROPS (FIRST AND THIRD IMAGES), WHILE CGI FILLS IN THE REMAINING SCENE (SECOND AND FOURTH IMAGES). P R I M E - T I M E E F F E C T S

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