Computer Graphics World

Edition 2 2018

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e d i t i o n 2 , 2 0 1 8 | c g w 9 ou could, as do some artists who worked on Ready Player One, think of this movie as three films in one in terms of the work involved. There's the real-time game engine version used by Director Steven Spielberg for previs and production, the 90-minute photoreal animated feature created by ILM in which actors appear as avatars, and, of course, the final film, which includes that virtual world called the OASIS plus live action with visual effects set in the real world. The Warner Bros.' action/adventure/ sci-fi feature tells the story of one young man's quest to save the virtual world he thrives in, and gain a fortune in doing so. Wade Watts [Tye Sheridan] lives in dreary Columbus, Ohio, circa 2045, in one of many metal trailers stacked one above the other, seemingly randomly. It's a dystopian future filled with people effectively drugged by virtual reality. But, in the OASIS, Wade can participate in an exciting virtual world filled with pop culture references from the 1980s. His avatar in OASIS is Parzival, who looks like an anime hero with a mop of silver hair. Parzival drives a DeLorean from Back to the Future. As the camera pans past one trailer aer another, we see that Wade is not alone in his goggle-eyed pursuit of a more interesting life. The film's conceit is that Halliday (Mark Rylance), the OASIS creator, has died, leaving behind a quest: Anyone who meets three challenges gets three keys, the last of which leads to an Easter egg. Find the Easter egg and you win control of the OASIS and millions of dollars. It is a quest Wade can't resist. To organize the production that made it possible for Spielberg to film in a virtual world and to create visual effects for the film, he relied largely on two studios: Digital Domain and ILM. Artists at Digital Domain managed the virtual production under Gary Roberts' supervision, and created effects in the real world, with Matthew Butler super- vising and Scott Meadows managing the previs. Artists in all four ILM studios created the OASIS, with Roger Guyett as overall supervisor, Grady Cofer supervising artists in the London studio, Dave Dally supervising the Singapore studio, and David Shirk as overall animation supervisor. In addition, ILM's Alex Jaeger was the virtual production concept design supervisor working with production designer Adam Stockhausen and artists from Digital Domain and ILM. The Third Floor provided initial previs, and freelance artists, along with artists from Framestore and the ILM art department, helped Stockhausen with concept art. Jaeger was among the first to begin working on the project, creating concept art for Stockhausen in 2014 – vehicles, spaceships that didn't end up in the movie, and environments. "We wanted to get some of the key scenes rolling," Jaeger says. Soon, Stockhausen asked Jaeger to stay on as virtual production art director. "Adam wanted someone to see things through the whole show, from beginning to end," Jaeger says. "He hadn't done a movie with as many visual effects." At that point, the concept art needed to move into virtual production and become digital environments with CG props and rough versions of characters. The goal was that when Spielberg walked onto the stage and put on a pair of VR goggles, he'd be in the OASIS. "All the sets, the main props, the char- acters, and the environments had to be figured out early on, so Steven could walk around in the virtual environment and pre- plan the movie," Jaeger says. "So, we had a big front-load of design work. Most of the work for virtual production was for shots where the main characters interact with things, like Aech's garage, the Distracted Globe nightclub, and the starting line of the race in New York with big metal cages. For the race, we had to build representations of cars and Aech's bigfoot truck. The fountain. The sets in The Shining. The places in Hal- liday's 'journals.' And then, the final battle was the big one." Jaeger would start by designing the sets, props, and characters in Foundry's Modo, render them from various angles, paint over them with Adobe's Photoshop, and give them to Stockhausen. When Stockhausen was satisfied, he'd show them to Spiel- berg, and once Spielberg gave his blessing, Jaeger would send 3D models and artwork to Digital Domain. The props department would build matching wireframe proxies for the actors to have on set. "Before we got to London, we would do test runs with Digital Domain to be sure the sets were ready for Adam to walk around," Jaeger says. "He'd put his goggles on. When he said it was OK, we'd lock that and move to the next one. That went on for a good year and a half, getting everything set up and ready for shooting in London. Then, we Y AECH AND PARZIVAL GETTING READY FOR THE FIRST CHALLENGE – THE NEW YORK RACE. V I R T U A L R E A L I T Y

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