Computer Graphics World

July/August 2014

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j u ly . a u g u s t 2 0 1 4 c g w 3 5 lice: And how many hours a day did you do lessons? The Mock Turtle: Ten hours the fi rst day, nine the next, and so on. Alice: What a curious plan! The Gryphon: That's the reason they're called lessons, because they lessen from day to day. – From "Alice in Wonderland" The lessons may have less- ened for the Gryphon, but they certainly did not for the VFX artists at Zoic who juggled the visual eff ects in the Once Upon A Time spin-off , Once Upon A Time in Wonderland, with Andrew Orloff once again in the role of overall VFX supervisor. The single-season, 13-episode Wonderland – which takes place in present-day Wonderland with fl ashbacks to pre-cursed Wonderland – contains count- less virtual sets. In fact, Orloff estimates that more than half of each episode uses virtual environments, and here, like in the original series, the ZEUS sys- tem proved itself in spades. The Wonderland environments are far more fantastical and improbable, exactly what is expected down the rabbit hole. There are castles, but for this show, they are in the mountains, on an island, and they even fl oat in the sky. The Queen of Heart's abode is metallic and made of chess pieces, leading one reviewer to call it "splendid." "There is a huge amount of virtual set work and design work in the show – the exteriors and interiors are very stylistic and unusual, exactly what is expect- ed in this universe. We had an outdoor environment that was a boiling sea below a cliff , where half the sky was day and half was night," Orloff describes. Whereas in Once Upon A Time characters will enter a forested outdoor environment, in Won- derland, they enter a mushroom forest that just cannot be fi lmed in a real setting. "You have to make some type of augmenta- tion or virtual set for almost every environment," says Orloff . "Nearly everything in Wonderland has to be touched to some degree." There are a number of CG characters, including the White Rabbit (who is a piece of mas- tery) that regularly acts within a real and digital environment, as does the CG Cheshire Cat, which is shown climbing a tree. A team of 15 animators worked on that sequence alone, collab- orating with editorial to make sure they had the proper action for the cat, especially since there were live actors interact- ing with the CG feline within the virtual environments. "We got one piece of concept art from production, and we cre- ated the Cheshire Cat from that one piece of fl at artwork," says Orloff . The group modeled the cat in 3D using Autodesk's Maya, and initially used a combination of Joe Alter's Shave and a Haircut and Yeti, a fur plug-in from Peregrine Labs, to generate a feral version of the animal with wild, wild hair to match its wild, wild personality. As the show progressed, however, the studio began to solely use Yeti because it integrated better within the ZEUS pipeline. Unlike the parent show, Wonderland's eff ects are out- rageous rather than realistic. But like the parent show, they ground the characters into the story world and support the plot, no mater how outrageous. Or how diffi cult. March Hare: Start at the beginning. Mad Hatter: Yes, yes. And when you come to the end... [chuckles] Mad Hatter: STOP. See? K Chapter 2 A TWO OF THE MORE INTRIGUING CG CHARACTERS IN WONDERLAND ARE THE WHITE RABBIT AND CHESHIRE CAT, BOTH CREATED BY ZOIC. Once Upon A Time in Wonderland P R I M E - T I M E E F F E C T S Images ©ABC/Once Upon A Time In Wonderland

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