3D World - - FEATURE -

When live-ac­tion shots just aren’t pos­si­ble, it falls into the hands of the cg artists to cre­ate en­vi­ron­ments

In ad­di­tion to all of the live-ac­tion pho­tog­ra­phy, CG aug­men­ta­tion was needed for build­ing en­vi­ron­ments. “The Hid­den Fortress is one of our big en­vi­ron­ments in the film,” re­marks Weta Dig­i­tal Vis­ual Ef­fects Su­per­vi­sor, Dan Lem­mon. “A por­tion of the ex­te­rior we shot in Bri­tish Columbia but we ended up dig­i­tally adding the wa­ter­fall and all of the in­te­rior. The bas­kets, totems, sconces and torches were built off of de­signs or pieces that the prop master or set dec­o­ra­tor had put to­gether with the pro­duc­tion de­signer.” A sig­nif­i­cant el­e­ment that needed to be sim­u­lated was the wa­ter­fall. “A big part of mak­ing it feel be­liev­able had to do with build­ing the ter­rain un­der­neath the wa­ter­fall, such as the rocks, chan­nels, and in­ter­rup­tions the wa­ter flows over. By mak­ing the sur­face un­der­neath the wa­ter­fall bumpy enough in the right places, you can get be­haviour that looks re­al­is­tic.”

That wasn’t the only chal­lenge. “The prison camp was a big set out in the mid­dle of an empty lot near the air­port in Van­cou­ver,” re­veals Dan. “It would have been sev­eral hun­dred me­tres in each di­rec­tion. But even that was only a frac­tion of the size the prison camp was sup­posed to be. We had sev­eral walls of big green screen sur­round­ing that set. This was the first time I worked with in­flat­able green screen walls. They go up quick, stand up against winds, and are smooth. Ours were 50 feet high and 100 feet long, stacked side by side. Then on top of that we used cherry picker lifts to ex­tend the green screen to be 100 feet tall. Even that wasn’t tall enough to cover the whole set.” The fore­ground plate fea­tured the hu­man ac­tors and the mo­tion cap­ture per­form­ers play­ing the apes. “We sent an aerial unit to Wit­ney Por­tal in Cal­i­for­nia and then we built our en­vi­ron­ment based on a lot of that pho­tog­ra­phy.”

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