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October 2016

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STORKS 35 POST OCTOBER 2016 it would suddenly emerge like he's a dude with an arm." Using an elaborate set of IK con- trols and deformers in Maya, along with their TweakIt tools, animators worked with a wing that, in its default position, resembled a brick, but, as Beveridge says, "with all the controls engineered to work closely with each other, they could easily make any shape with it they wanted." For the wings, though, effects art- ists could not resort to a proliferation of instanced feathers. Instead, they built shaders in Arnold that would give surfaces, like the Gardner's skin and clothes, the tangible, sanded granularity of Claymation, and even add, to a greater or lesser degree, light fuzz. It's these shaders that cap- tured the feel of soft down. Feeding them into Katana, the lighting artists were able to use them to populate a surface with short, diaphanous hair. LOONEY TUNES MEETS REALITY The high-contrast, naturalistic ap- proach to the cinematography can be seen in almost every scene, from the dour, industrial atmosphere of the warehouse, to Hunter's office, and the sepulchral shadows of the wolf cave. "We really did want to push high key lighting, very strong rims, and strong light sources," says Smith. Artists sculpted the lighting for every scene in Katana, where they also honed the carefully-designed lighting and color keys that draw an emotional distinction between the subdued color palette of suburbia and the more saturated hues of Stork Mountain. The lightning-quick Looney Tunes animation became a rendering chal- lenge, requiring a new approach to motion blur to prevent characters from vanishing under the sheer speed of their movement. "We wanted to push motion blur on this film, so we used a backwards shutter [in Katana], opening it up to give us a harder lead- ing edge," explains Smith. "There were a couple of pans where you'd see a little bit of strobing, and we'd have to go for a more traditional shutter that's open on either side; but for the most part, we got away with a strong leading edge and a little bit of a strob- ing, which resonated with the more cartoony, graphical side of the film." Honing the motion blur and lighting in Katana, and compositing in Nuke, the team ultimately rendered the scenes through Arnold. In addition to incorporating Claymation-like shaders, the team also lent a tangibility to the ludicrous world by adding certain effects normally used when compos- iting CG elements into a live-action plate, like chromatic aberrations, grain and other artifacts — an approach that came from Smith's unique per- spective as a veteran of live action. "We just wanted the audience to feel like they could reach out and touch the characters and the world," he says. Indeed, Storks delivers an impres- sive visual feat, a world rooted in a deep sense of reality, yet open to the most gloriously free-spirited anima- tion — a place where Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner would feel right at home. Martin McEachern (martinmceach- is an award-win- ning writer and contributing editor for Post's sister publication, CGW. The suburbs where mom, dad and Nate live, were lit using Katana. Baby had a set of design rules to keep her soft, yet squishy.

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