Computer Graphics World

March / April 2015

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20 cgw m a r c h . a p r i l 2 0 1 5 ith Chappie, Director Neill Blomkamp con- tinues his exploration into a dystopian near future set in South Africa. In this future, Scouts, which are robots with some intelligence, act as the police force. The story takes off when two misfit gangsters – Yolandi and Ninja (South Afri- can rappers Yo-Landi Visser and Ninja, respectively) – kidnap Deon (Dev Patel), the Scouts' creator, to have him turn off the robots. But Deon has a bigger idea: He instills a damaged and discarded Scout with abilities beyond thinking. That Scout becomes Chappie, a robot that can think and create. Albeit a full-human-sized killing machine, Chappie is born again as a child. The child needs training, so Daddy, Daddy, and Mommy, if you will, take on the parental roles. Daddy Deon, the inventor, is the good parent. Ninja, the gangster, the bad. And Yolandi is mommy, somewhere in the middle. Should Chappie be a policeman or a criminal? Virtuous or not? Chappie, the Scouts, and a human-directed rather than AI-directed bipedal mech called Moose are all CG characters created at Image Engine. Chris Harvey, the overall visual effects supervisor and the VFX supervisor at Image Engine, joined the production about six months before filming began, and spent about two years working on the feature. The main challenge was creating Chappie, which would star in 1,000 of the 1,300 visual effects shots in the film. Sharlto Copley, who was Wikus van de Merwe, a bureaucrat who be- comes a prawn in Blomkamp's District 9 and was the agent Kruger who ended up wearing an exoskeleton in Blomkamp's Elysium, played Chappie during filming and provided his voice. Two things about the project are unique: First, Image Engine built a 3D model of a generic Scout from concept art pro- vided by Weta Workshop, Weta Workshop printed the model for use on set, and then Image Engine adjusted the model to compensate for changes re- quired for the 3D print. Second, although some reports suggest the opposite, Image Engine did THE CG ROBOT IN CHAPPIE LEARNS HOW TO THINK AND FEEL BY BARBARA ROBERTSON Creative Robot W Images ©2015 CTMG, Inc.

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