Computer Graphics World

March / April 2015

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m a r c h . a p r i l 2 0 1 5 c g w 7 is Oh, a banished Boov who ac- cidentally tells the enemy where the Boov landed. The story centers on Tip and the outcast Oh. "Even though we made substantial changes to Adam Rex's plot, the charac- ters are his," says Director Tim Johnson, who also directed PDI/ DreamWorks' Antz and Over the Hedge, and was executive producer on How to Train Your Dragon. "It's a story about love and sacrifice that takes the char- acters from extremes to uniting." Oh is arrogant about humans. Tip hates him. She can't trust an alien who took away her mother. The two have a wary re- lationship until they break down the barriers. Oh turns a car into a flying hovercra and helps Tip search the world for her mother. The car flies the two characters around a world transformed by the well intentioned but clueless Boov into a bizarre landscape. "I moved my first mouse in 1985," Johnson says. "Now, I can pretty much let my imagination go wild. Some things are chal- lenging, but we have the tools and talent to pull them off." So, how did he have the aliens capture the humans? "The aliens flick a switch that turns off gravity and scoop up all the humans," Johnson says. "We open the film from the aliens' point of view and have the invasion take place on a happy day. The aliens fill the sky with bubbles. It feels like a festival. They believe they've arrived on a planet occupied by naïve primitives who will benefit from their arrival. The aliens give the humans ice cream and deposit them in a happy human town. They have no idea how devas- tating they'll be to our culture." Beware friendly aliens armed with bubbles. B U B B L E T R O U B L E Why bubbles? "I'm a huge science-fiction fan, but I feel that the genre has fallen into stereotypes," Johnson says. "The spaceships in Star Trek look like the spaceships in Battlestar Galactica and the spaceships in Star Wars. They all have blasters, lasers, and vehicles with rocket boosters. So, I wanted to give the Boov an unexpected look and feel. The source of their technology is gravity, and bubbles are the pri- mary component of that. Even their weapons are bubbles." DreamWorks brought bubble experts into the studio to learn how bubbles oscillate, wobble, rotate, and move. And the crew played with sizes and scale. "The bubbles in the film are generally like bubbles you would imagine, with subtle differences," says Mahesh Ramasubrama- nian, VFX super visor. "Usually, people play with refraction, which makes bubbles look thick. We stayed true to physics. The bubbles are thin and don't refract. But, they have a lot of iri- descence, oily patterns like those you would expect in nature. That makes them look like bub- bles and not balloons or glass spheres. But, we limited the oily texture to the edges because when Boov are inside, we didn't want to cover their faces." A bubble's color depends on its use. Communication bub- bles, for example, are turquoise. "One character sends news about a fugitive, using a small, turquoise bubble with an LCD film inside showing the picture of the person being chased," Ramasubramanian says. Red bubbles are aggressive. "The Boov unleash these innocent-looking red bubbles," Ramasubramanian says. "As the bubbles get close to a building, they pop and create a hole. Then the Boov use a bubble with another color that is kind of like a tube, to suck people out from inside and transport them away." Where did they take the humans? THE BUBBLES HAVE IRIDESCENCE ONLY AROUND THE EDGES, TO BETTER SEE THE BOOV INSIDE.

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