Computer Graphics World

Edition 2 2018

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34 cgw | e d i t i o n 2 , 2 0 1 8 READY TO GO! THE THIRD FLOOR HELPS VISUALIZE ACTION, CHARACTERS, AND RULES OF THE ROAD IN READY PLAYER ONE I n Steven Spielberg's cinematic realization of the best-selling sci-fi adventure novel "Ready Player One," futuristic hero Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) dives into the imagined reality of the OASIS. As players join in a high-stakes game to win control over the created universe, they face surprising characters and circumstances in this simulated world. In approaching the movie, distributed by Warner Bros., Director Spielberg and his team immersed themselves in developing the visual look, also defining a range of user experiences for the "world within a world." A storyboard and previs team at The Third Floor in Los Angeles, in- volved early in the process, provided a sandbox in which a variety of these concepts, visual treatments, and rules could be explored. (See "Ready Set Go" on page 8 for an in-depth look at the visual effects work in the film.) "It's the year 2045 and people are escaping what's real for virtual reality," says Joshua Wassung, previs creative director at The Third Floor for Ready Player One. "Inside of that reality, there are multiple story layers as char- acters engage in a massively multiplayer game. Having worked on several of Steven's prior projects, we were thrilled to be able to work with him directly to provide a test bed for some of the creative visual ideas." Work at The Third Floor began with boards illustrated by the company's story department head, Doug Lefler. Lefler, who earlier worked with Spielberg on The BFG, created boards or rough thumbnail sketches for multiple parts of the story – from opening to climax. Meanwhile, modelers at The Third Floor created a large library of digital visualization assets, ranging from environments to characters, referenc- ing original artwork or licensed pop-culture material that would appear in the film. "Since the movie is based on a virtual-world adventure, many ideas were iterated and explored in production to help highlight the realm of high fantasy that the hero would live in," says Todd Constantine, previs supervisor at The Third Floor. "Doug started with storyboards, while the pre- vis team built assets. We had many meetings with Steven, Production Designer Adam Stockhausen, and others as they worked out the rules and story aspects that would affect each sequence." Adds Lefler, "Having been a young man in the '80s, it was like having an enormous playground in which I was familiar with every part. "There were many challenges to making a film like this, but the pop culture portions were the fun parts."

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