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 5 5 V I S U A L E F F E C T S "We had a bit more destruc- tion this time," Farrar says with admirable understatement. "Michael would come up here about once a week, and one of his favorite stops was our sim guy Mike Balog's desk. 'What's the sim guy got going now?' Michael would ask." What the sim guy had going was spectacular destruction – ongoing, never-ending destruc- tion. Destruction porn, some people call it. "The thing is, we couldn't just move things or tuck them on the side of a frame," Farrar says. "We had to put the destruction right in the middle of the shot and make it cinematic. Michael has completely moved away from models and miniatures; he trusts us to do the destruction. And, I think we have developed the capacity to do some of the most realistic simulations today." The simulations had to be real to fi t well into the plates. "We fi lmed on real locations with real camera rigs," Farrar says. "We tried to make the aerial shots better using a new rig that could bank in the turns around buildings in Chicago. We had a crew in Hong Kong photographing the streets for four weeks to create corridors we could fl y a camera down. The streets are all based on photo- graphs; none of those shots are derived from CG nothingness. That's what gives the movie its reality. And, I personally prefer it." Even the now iconic shot of Optimus Prime riding on the back of a gigantic metal dinobot had its origins in photographs. "We stitched photographs together," Farrar says. "And then we made a shot like in John Ford's The Searchers with John Wayne riding to the rescue." For location shots, the lighting artist crew started with infor- mation from HDRI environment spheres, and then Farrar worked with them to refi ne the look. "This fi lm was diff erent from most of the others in that we didn't have a nice, bright location day for most of the shots," Farrar says. "For shots of Lockdown arriving with the 'Night Ship,' we fi lmed on a heavy, overcast day. It was not typical Michael Bay lighting. It was tough, because robots don't look good in dull light. So, I'd add lights that weren't in the scene. That was hard for the technically based lighting artists who want to match the plates. The artistic types found it easier to add lights more freely." M A K I N G S E N S E O F I T At the end, compositors had to make sense of the complicated lighting, weather, smoke, haze, and other eff ects. "Everything about this movie is dense," Farrar says. "We had hundreds of layers more than the previous fi lms." Adding to the complexity was the need to work with several diff erent camera formats. "I shot aerials in Iceland with an IMAX digital camera," Farrar says. "We also had single Red cameras, anamorphic cameras, Red bodies for the native stereo shots, GoPros, and small 35mm cameras in crash boxes. So, the compositing crew had to keep track of all that and fi gure out a common format for each and every camera." The result, for Farrar, made the eff ort worthwhile. "The design of the show required us to push the limits of everybody, but we learned a great deal," he says. "The overriding benefi t of doing a fi lm like this is that it pushes us to make our work look better; to make the CG behave in a way that looks more like the real world. I think the robots have never looked as good. Our backgrounds look great. We moved the lighting many stripes forward. And, our crew was never disenchanted. It was hard. But, no one had to do a dud shot. Everyone got a hero shot, and not just one. Four or fi ve. It was gratifying work. That's pretty cool." ¢ Barbara Robertson is an award-winning writer and a contributing editor for CGW. She can be reached at NEW PROPRIETARY MOFLO SOFTWARE BLENDS SHOTS ANIMATED EVERY FOUR FRAMES TO GIVE ANIMATORS QUICKER ITERATIONS WHEN CREATING PERFORMANCES FOR MULTIPLE, COMPLEX CG ASSETS. VIDEO: GO TO EXTRAS IN THE JULY/AUGUST 2014 ISSUE BOX C G W. C O M Images ©2014 Paramount Pictures. HASBRO, TRANSFORMERS, and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

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