Computer Graphics World

July / August 2016

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j u ly . a u g u s t 2 0 1 6 c g w 5 3 C L A S H I N G W O R L D S – W A R C R A F T To help realize Warcra, The Third Floor worked alongside Director Duncan Jones and Visual Effects Supervisor Bill West- enhofer to visualize action and story arcs for the film's Orc and human characters based on the script and storyboards (see "Cray Effects," page 8). The previs sequences, which in some cases were taken to the set and used as a guide for the shoot and for virtual produc- tion, included blocking for action choreogra- phy, camera, and effects. To add realism to the previs and accelerate previs ani- mation, the previs team recorded motion capture in-house, with artists jumping from the computer into motion-capture suits. "Beyond the large set pieces and visual effects sequences, a big part of visualizing this movie was being able to effectively block complex shots between Orcs and humans for Duncan," says Previs/Postvis Supervisor Shawn Hull. In another phase of production, the team used low-res versions of final CG characters and the actors' motion-capture perfor- mances to create an accurate silhouette for postvis. "This really helped depict the relationship between Orc and human inter- action and scale," Hull says. A V I R T U A L J U N G L E – T H E J U N G L E B O O K As a project realized extensively through virtual production, The Jungle Book pre- sented a unique assignment for The Third Floor, not as a traditional previs unit, but within the film's virtual art department (see "Virtual Verite," March/April 2016). With the movie being acted almost exclusively with bluescreen or greenscreen, the filmmakers needed a way to approve key environments and give others a view of those settings before going to the stage. So working from concept art, Brian Pace and a group of art- ists created 3D digital environments for the director and production designer to review. "We paid a lot of attention to the color palette, which was very important to the mood," Pace says. "For example, there are bright, healthy hues in the greenery around Baloo's cave to highlight the characters' budding friendship. We worked closely with Production Designer Christopher Glass to follow concept artwork and make the envi- ronments visually rich so they could be ap- proved and used to inform production and visual effects. In traditional previs, we might focus on the action of the characters and then work our way toward the background. In this case, we started with the surround- ings and filled that canvas first." The virtual environments were built in Maya, with input from Glass, Art Director John Lord Booth, Supervising Art Director Andrew L. Jones, and the director. Files were created to the specifications of the motion-capture set so the virtual 3D scenes were grounded in the reality of what could be shot, and then matched where the per- formers would be stepping. "Given the nature of this show, it made sense for us to use accurate measurements of where the mocap performers would be standing as a foundation for these environments," Pace says. "The virtual sets were modeled with re- spect to their real-world counterparts on the motion-capture stage, which right away solved lots of technical issues for production. Once the virtual designs were approved, they were ready for the next team to translate for use in both MotionBuilder and Photon." The 3D environments were also used for virtual scouting. In the early stages, the scenes were optimized for Viewport 2.0 in Maya, allowing changes to be made right in front of the director before committing the scene to Photon. The director could use a game controller to interactively navigate the virtual scenes. Notable sequences included Baloo's cave (exterior), shots at the bridge to the human village, landscapes for the monkey jungle, and both interiors and exteriors for the ruins where King Louie lives. "We worked closely with Christopher, especially on layout for the scene when Mowgli is chased through King Lou- ie's 'Cold Lairs,'" Pace recalls. "The size difference between the characters is pretty steep, so the distance between the columns became a key question. The columns were based on real columns that the art department had researched, so we couldn't change their dimensions, only their spacing. Using stand-ins for Mowgli and King Louie, it was possible to work out in real time how different spacing affected the tension of the shot. Once we found something that felt right, we sent that environment to animators, who brought Louie and Mowgli in as a proof of concept that the director approved." M A S T E R S T R A T E G Y – G A M E O F T H R O N E S With dragons, wights, giants, and huge- scale human conflicts, Game of Thrones is known for ambitious visuals. Given the range of shots and visual effects to realize VIS ON WARCRAFT HELPED BLOCK COMPLEX SHOTS BETWEEN ORCS AND HUMANS. IN AN ATYPICAL SCENARIO, THE THIRD FLOOR WORKED WITHIN THE JUNGLE BOOK'S VIRTUAL ART DEPARTMENT.

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