Computer Graphics World

March / April 2015

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30 cgw m a r c h . a p r i l 2 0 1 5 hile critics say the story for Jupiter Ascend- ing has missed the mark, they are quick to laud the complex visual effects in this latest space opera. Andy and Lana Wachowski's Jupiter Ascending brings Mila Kunis (Jupiter Jones), Channing Tatum (Caine), Eddie Red- mayne (Balem), and Sean Bean (Stinger) together in a lavish and beautifully designed sci-fi universe run by an ancient dy- nasty that farms entire planets for their DNA. This action/adventure film from Warner Bros. tells the futuristic story of a young, destitute caretaker (Jupiter), who goes on an unexpected journey that takes her to a world outside our own. Accompanied by a genetically engineered soldier (Caine), she encounters a tyrannical ruler of a planet in need of a new heir. Framestore's London and Montreal teams delivered more than 500 shots for the film, with the movie's melting pot of aesthetic styles reflected in the wide range of visual effects the team delivered. The work ranged from hero characters of the extraterres- trial Keepers and the lizard-like Sargorn, to the environments of powerful royal alien Balem's boardroom and lab, the armory, and the Clipper ship dock belonging to Balem's brother (Titus), as well as digital dou- bles, spaceships, planets, and all manner of explosions, fireballs, shattering glass, and liquid-like nanotechnology. Framestore got involved in pre-production, with a team of animators spending six months carrying out animation tests at Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden, England, to help the directors plan the sequences and develop the alien char- acters. The crew also worked closely with Double Negative, which was responsible for a Chicago environment chase scene, among others, as well as Halon and The Third Floor previs teams. The group also worked on set with NVizible. T H E F I G H T I S O N First, there are the Keepers. Creepy by design, they are a group of slinking aliens able to cloak themselves from sight. "They appear in a number of really nightmarish scenes and work more as creatures of the night than as traditional aliens, so we gave them these revers- ible knees and elbows, which made them quite insect-like," explains Framestore Animation Supervisor Max Solomon. The Sargorns were a differ- ent prospect – powerful and capable of speech, the winged reptiles provided an animation challenge as they flicked be- tween calm conversations with humans and moments of bes- tial rage. Their long, lizard skulls made dialog interesting, espe- cially as their teeth are fused to their lips. "We had to find the right balance of flexibility within the constraints of that, so we made them talk out of the side of their mouth, where there are fewer teeth," adds Solomon. Once they entered fight mode though, the emphasis was on making them as ani- malistic as possible – moving W FORGING A WACHOWSKI WORLD FRAMESTORE SETS THE STAGE FOR A BOARDROOM BATTLE AND BUILDS AN IMPRESSIVE SPACESHIP, ITS LARGEST MODEL YET Images ©2015 Warner Bros Pictures.

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