Computer Graphics World

July / August 2016

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46 cgw j u ly . a u g u s t 2 0 1 6 Independence Day: Resurgence It was 1996 when alien invaders first attacked Earth in hopes of eradicating the human race and taking over the planet. The film was Independence Day, and it grossed more than $306 million at the box office. Directed and written (with Dean Devlin) by Roland Emmerich, the film went on to win an Academy Award for its visual effects. Fast-forward 20 years, and Emmerich, along with many original cast and crew, including VFX Supe Volker Engel and VFX Producer Marc Weigert, return for Twentieth Century Fox's Independence Day: Resurgence. In this long-awaited sequel, the aliens are back, in much stronger force than before, and trying yet again to take over the planet. The film has just under 1,800 visual effects shots completed by numerous facilities, including Weta, Scanline, MPC, Image Engine, Digital Domain, Cinesite, Luxx Studios, Trixter, and Engel and Weigert's own Uncharted Territory. "In the first movie, we were restricted with showing the aliens," Engel says. "It was back in the days with puppets and some creature-type work, where we could only show the upper torso. We used lots of fog to hide everything. In the new film, the aliens play a much bigger part. We show the alien versions from the first movie, but we also have a subspecies of soldier aliens and a much bigger version, which is the queen." All the alien work was completed by Im- age Engine, except for the queen, which was done at Weta. There's also more interaction with the actors and a chase between the queen and a school bus around Area 51 on a lake in broad daylight. "This movie has it all: set ex- tensions, big disaster pieces, a moon base, a space battle, a dogfight, bluescreen shoots… everything," says Engel. The film has at least four times as many visual effects shots as the original, accord- ing to Engel. Also, since the first film, the technology used to complete the work has advanced considerably. "Back in the day, 20 years ago, it was about 90 percent miniatures on the first movie, and probably less than 10 percent of that was computer-generated. Here, there's not a single miniature in the whole movie," Engel says. S H A R E D W O R K F L O W As Weigert points out, all the vendors are using everything in the book for their work – mostly Autodesk's Maya for animation, a lot of Side Effects' Houdini for particle effects, and so on. Some vendors, including Uncharted Territory, are using Autodesk's 3ds Max. For rendering, they use Chaos Group's V-Ray, Solid Angle's Arnold, and DNA Research's 3Delight. Alas, soware compatibility can become a challenge when splitting up the work. "Most of the single parts are too big for any single vendor. But you also want to avoid having vendors doing double work. You don't want the next vendor having to reinvent the wheel in terms of rendering and trying to figure out the lighting and the shading that's involved," says Weigert. "That's something that's difficult, especially if you're dealing with animated characters. That's why we kept all the regular aliens with one vendor, Image Engine, and then all the queen shots with one vendor, Weta." The entire opening moon sequence in the first 20 minutes of the film was completed by MPC, with a handful of shots by Trixter. Luxx in Germany completed the establishing shots of Washington, D.C. "As the mother ship is approaching Earth, Scanline takes over, and all the destruction on Earth is completed by Scanline," says Weigert. "The dogfight outside of the mother ship was completed by Digital Domain, and then our heroes are flying inside the mother ship and that's all Uncharted Territory." The overall size and scale of the film – a signature of Emmerich's – challenged the various teams, but none more so than the scale of the mother ship. "It's 3,000 miles in INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE BOASTS FOUR TIMES AS MANY VFX SHOTS AS THE ORIGINAL FILM FROM 1996. COURTESY 20TH CENTURY FOX

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