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A UKLAND, NEW ZEALAND — While New Zealand might be known as home of visual effects giant Weta Digital, there is another large VFX entity in the country that keeps just as busy with film, commercial, television work and more. Auckland's PRPVFX Ltd. (www.prpvfx. com), the second largest visual effects house in the country (yes, Weta is the largest), re- cently provided more than 300 shots for Dis- ney XD channel's made-for-TV movie, Skyrun- ners, which follows two brothers who find a friendly UFO while out on an evening drive. Of the 320 shots that PRPVFX supplied for this sci-fi feature, one-third were com- pletely CG. The studio's main shots on Skyrunners included the "dogfight" sequence, the "alien's lair," an alien morph, and a scene involving CG dodgeballs that will make any of us ever forced to play this violent gym game shudder. Weta Workshop, in Welling- ton, was hired for the alien creature design and provided the practical alien creature effects. In the dodgeball scene, our hero Tyler is being tormented by bullies in gym class who don't realize that a UFO ride in space has left him with super-human strength and abilities. As they whip dodgeballs at him, he is able to slow everything down, making evasive moves with cat-like agility. "This sequence was quite involved," ex- plains VFX super visor Carol Petrie, adding that PRPVFX created 3D simulations, via Autodesk 3DS Max, of all the dodgeballs. "Footage from the Phantom camera was used, so ever ything was slow motion. Our sims with CG dodgeballs had to match that slo-mo footage. The challenge was getting the CG dodgeballs to look the same as the real ones and matching reflections on the shiny gym floor." PRPVFX also provided wire removal on these scenes — the young actor playing Tyler was on wires, which allowed him to move in superhuman ways. T H E D O G F I G H T PRPVFX ar tists used the practical UFO set piece as a basis for its CG model of the boys' spaceship, built in 3DS Max. Concept art was used to create the alien UFO, which tries to shoot down the boys. According to Petrie, "The boys' practical UFO has a glass canopy that could be removed, so when they shot the dogfight greenscreen, we took the canopy off and replaced it with a CG one in order to control reflections and the environment Another shoot was making it look practical spacecraft. ers on the canopy, but be moving tracking to "It was tricky it look exactly when we work perfectly, tors to match-move Petrie points the storyboard sequence super visor and had those shoot to make angles," she would tr y moves, and the director T H E A L To match how the producers to look, PRPVFX using a combination 3D compositing. "There looked corrosive toxic environment," kept getting with producers; until delivery." She says biggest challenge was meant tory."It would cave ver tically. tory as the Helping Disney XD's PRPVFX lends an otherworldly hand to this sci-fi film. Carol Petrie: Getting involved early helped PRPVFX understand exactly what the producers and director wanted from the visual effects. The studio created 14 Post • November 2009 V I S U A L E F By RANDI ALTMAN E D I T O R - I N - C H I E F

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