Computer Graphics World

Dec/Jan 2011-12

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■ ■ ■ ■ Stereo 3D•Visual Effects VISUAL EFFECTS ARTISTS PUSH DEEP INTO CINEMA HISTORY TO HELP MARTIN SCORSESE CREATE HUGO MAGIC MA BY BARBARA ROBERTSON 20th Heralded as the most artistic use of stereo 3D since Avatar, and perhaps even including Avatar, Martin Scorsese's love letter to fi lmmaking takes place in 1930s Paris, as seen through the eyes of a boy and realized as if fi lmed on an early century movie set. Hugo, based on the award-winning children's book by Brian Selznick, stars Asa Butterfi eld as Hugo Cabret, the orphaned son of a clockmaker who now lives in a secret part of a Paris train station. Hugo's father left him a broken automaton, and Hugo believes that if he can repair the machine, a small mechanical man, he might bring back something of his father. To operate the automaton, though, he needs a key, and as if by magic, Hugo meets Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), a girl with the key. But, the real key to the story's secrets and to the fi lmmaker's vision is through Isabelle's godfather, a toymaker named Georges (Ben Kingsley). Th e toymaker, we will realize, is Georges Méliès, a pioneering fi lmmaker who instilled the movies he made between 1896 and 1914 with cinematic versions of the illusions he had created in his magic theater shows. He invented special eff ects. But, driven out of business by larger studios, Méliès became a toy salesman at the Montparnasse train station. In the beginning of the fi lm, we see a vision of Paris enhanced, as is much of the fi lm, with visual eff ects used to mimic and augment traditional special eff ects. In an aerial shot of the city from above the Arc de Triomphe, time-lapse photography of traffi c on the 12 streets that radiate out from the center circle give the sequence a me- chanical quality. As the camera pans past the Eiff el Tower, we see the hint of a clock mechanism. "We wanted to plant something in your head so the later dialog will make sense," says Rob Legato, second unit director and visual eff ects supervisor. Th e later dialog is a bit of philosophy Hugo shares with Isabelle: that machines are never built with extra parts; that all machines have only the parts they need to run and no more. He posits that if the world is a machine, he must be a part, which means there is a reason why he exists. 20 December 2011/January 2012 ILM artists created the feeling of Paris as a mechanism by using their proprietary Zeno pipeline, which includes Autodesk's Maya, Adobe's Photoshop, and other software, and drew on Luxology's Modo to create streaks of traffi c on Parisian streets. Images ©2011 GK Films, LLC. Photos: Jaap Buitendijk.

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