Journey 2:small is large & large is small

Posted on August 21, 2012

FX PHD posted long and detailed article regarding creation of Journey 2 movie. You can read in deep about fx done by several vendors, including Scanline, Pixomondo, Method Studios, MPC, Rising Sun Pictures, Trixter and ICOVFX.
If You are a a lucky member of FX PHD insider, you can check out an interview with RSP digital effects supervisor, Mark Wendell [Here]

I have pasted a most interesting part of article – my work on that movie,  in Rising Sun Picture 🙂

How to fly giant bees

At one point in the film the characters encounter a sheer cliff amongst a valley of giant flowers and realize that the only way forward is by hitching a ride on some over-sized bees. Soon they are pursued by giant birds amongst a lush forest. Rising Sun Pictures, with visual effects supervision by Sean Mathiesen, was responsible for the sequence.

[…]“In one shot where they crash,” continues Mathiesen, “the dynamic and feather system switches over to Houdini. The birds come together in Maya, but then there’s a feather storm – an explosion of feathers – that’s generated out of Houdini. From that we created a vortex and velocity system so that as they’re impacting – you’ve got the velocity of the birds, the feathers explode off – the trajectory of the original bird blowing them forward.”[…]

Click here for an fxinsider interview with Rising Sun digital effects supervisor Mark Wendell on the tech tools behind the bee chase

 

– Above: watch the bee chase sequence.

On location, production shot background ground and aerial plates based on The Third Floor’s previs with various cameras and rigs, including SI-2Ks on a mini-helicopter flown through a forest grove. Mathiesen took reference photography of Hawaiian foliage and floor coverings which became crucial when the sequence required a higher number of digital forest shots than first anticipated. A later shoot in North Carolina incorporated the actors on bee bucks shot against greenscreen, where RSP created rough comps for turning over plates.

Post vis for the bee chase by The Third Floor.

Final assets included three bees, five digi-doubles, the birds and an entire digital forest with trees, leaves and flowers. For the forest, in particular, Rising Sun relied on Houdini to instance the incredible amount of geometry required. “We actually animated and rendered the characters in Maya and 3delight and gave them off to Nuke for a 2D composite,” explains Mathiesen, “and then rendered the forest and the backgrounds and the interactive elements – leaves being kicked up for instance – in Houdini/Mantra.”

Rising Sun also introduced a more robust digi-double solution relying on Light Stage techniques and a new feather and fur pipeline for the bees and bird work. “In the Maya rig for the bird, we had a series of guide feathers which the animator has control over. We used an IK-FK system, and you could put some noise over it to get some procedural movement into the guide feathers. Then all that was taken over to the feather system – procedural application done in Maya.”

“In one shot where they crash,” continues Mathiesen, “the dynamic and feather system switches over to Houdini. The birds come together in Maya, but then there’s a feather storm – an explosion of feathers – that’s generated out of Houdini. From that we created a vortex and velocity system so that as they’re impacting – you’ve got the velocity of the birds, the feathers explode off – the trajectory of the original bird blowing them forward.”

To realize some of the dynamic flight shots, Rising Sun incorporated an ‘influence’ feel to the camera as it whooshes closely past trees and branches. “So as you’re moving forward through the forest, you’re pushing through the bushes and branches,” says Mathiesen. “It’s almost so subtle that you don’t really see it but you have a visceral feeling. We used Ocula in Nuke combined with painted maps, so that the way you get motion blur not registering more towards the center of frame. The plants are close to the camera but then wiping out the edge of frame and being able to add the right sense of distortion and stretch – it gives a sense of reality to the CG work.”

In addition, a strong compositing component was essential, involving roto-planes for the live action actors to interact with the bee fur, putting them on cards to enable correct stereo and significant re-projection work. Rising Sun also completed a CG spider and web for the sequence and an additional CG ant shot. Mathiesen was particularly excited about using stereo to help tell the film’s story. “I really found that in the layout stage there was a further ability to tell a story in that z-depth. There’s a shot where there’s all three bees flying together – they duck into the forest and you’ve got the birds chasing them. Sean’s bird peels off in one direction, and you’re left with the other characters – so we forced the viewer’s eye through convergence and other 2D tricks of defocus and lighting – it’s as if you almost move off into the distance to tell a second story.”

 

 

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