A Su­per Scrap

Animation Magazine - - Opportunities -

ILM tack­les head on and ex­pands the scope of the Marvel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse with hordes of dig­i­tal su­per­heroes clash­ing like ti­tans in Cap­tain Amer­ica: Civil War. By Bill De­sowitz.

ter Sol­dier Ant-Man.

“If he’s swing­ing, how does he get from point A to point B? Phys­i­cally, we pumped the legs and eval­u­ated shots for be­liev­abil­ity,” Earl says. “We cal­i­brated from too over the top or too per­fect and added im­per­fec­tions.”

At first, they al­ter­nated be­tween shoot­ing a stunt per­former and Hol­land in the suits. They used wit­ness cam­eras for Hol­land and stud­ied park­our ref­er­ence. But half­way through pro­duc­tion, they de­cided that it made more sense to go full dig­i­tal for the Spidey suit. This re­quired a mus­cle rig and mus­cle sim­u­la­tion as well as a cloth suit and cloth sim­u­la­tion. They started with blue span­dex and red satin fab­ric and added car­bon fiber tex­ture and a raised printed pat­tern on top. They also played with the slide-to-stretch ra­tio for the fab­ric so that it looked like a real per­son talk­ing un­der the mask.

Mean­while, they shot Hol­land with two head-mounted cam­eras for fa­cial per­for­mance to drive the move­ment un­der the mask. An­i­ma­tion was added to the eyes and jaw mov­ing un­der­neath the suit for greater ex­pres­sion and aug­mented with key-frame to make it read bet­ter.

For Black Pan­ther, they also went from a prac­ti­cal suit (this time with vi­bra­nium thread woven into it) to full CG to make him more heroic look­ing. They also steered clear of any Bat­man like­ness.

“Pro­por­tion­ally, it was dif­fi­cult,” Earl says. “So we made the hel­met smaller, the chest big­ger, the shoul­ders broader and the waist nar­rower. An­i­ma­tion-wise, we gave him cat­like agility and keyed off of stunt per­for­mances. Even in close-up fight­ing, he’s been fully re­placed by a CG ver­sion. But it’s seam­less. He’s a bad-ass char­ac­ter.”

For Iron Man, they in­tro­duced the more stream­lined Mark 46 suit. They im­proved the tech so it could be smaller and fit tighter. “We’re get­ting closer to the bleed­ing edge suit of the comics,” Earl says. “We got to go in­side the suit as well and have the suit up in his he­li­copter.” Con­nect­ing the

Real World But for the Rus­sos, it’s all about Cap and how his char­ac­ter arc has be­come the per­fect me­taphor for our times.

“He starts off as a pa­triot with a very clear vil­lain in World War II, and then when he works for S.H.I.E.L.D. in this clan­des­tine or­ga­ni­za­tion, he has to rebel against the struc­ture and con­ven­tion be­cause he finds out it’s cor­rupt,” says Joe Russo.

“Cap is no longer the tra­di­tion­al­ist and Tony Stark is no longer the free-spirit,” says An­thony Russo. “And Cap be­comes an in­sur­gent by the end of this film.”

In other words, in a clever re­ver­sal, the hero be­comes the anti-hero and the anti-hero be­comes the hero.

“We’re on a metaphor­i­cal jour­ney with both the genre and the char­ac­ters,” says Joe Russo. “So there will be fi­nal­ity with In­fin­ity War. Can these char­ac­ters re­pair their re­la­tion­ships? Should they re­pair their re­la­tion­ships? It’s a big act.” Bill De­sowitz is Crafts Editor of Indiewire (www.indiewire.com) and the author of James Bond Un­masked (www.james­bon­dun­masked.com).

In­ter­est­ingly, Au­todesk has split its re­leases for the 2017 round of en­ter­tain­ment and me­dia soft­ware. 3D Stu­dio Max has al­ready come out of the gate, with Maya hold­ing back a bit. Let’s take a quick look at the new good­ies that Max has to of­fer.

With a new clear coat of de­sign brand­ing, Max has the same look and feel of Maya 2016. A more flat graphic ap­proach gives a clean­li­ness to the in­ter­face that kind of drums up mem­o­ries of Sof­tim­age, or maybe it mi­grated from Flame/ In­ferno. The in­ter­face is also HDPI aware, so those of you with 4K mon­i­tors will be happy to know you won’t wres­tle with su­per-tiny icons.

In the laun­dry list of new tools, my fa­vorite is the Boolean tool with dou­ble pre­ci­sion. (Yup. To­tal nerd.) Max al­ready had a de­cent Boolean func­tion to jam ob­jects to­gether into new ob­jects; they even up­dated it into “ProBoolean.” But now, “Boolean” has out­run the “Pro” ver­sion. It’s faster and more ac­cu­rate. But the fun part is the work­flow, which comes with a Boolean Ex­plorer that lets you con­trol all of the op­er­ands in the so­lu­tion. Yup, the Boolean is live and dy­namic.

An­other handy mod­el­ing tool is the Bevel Pro­file. This is sim­i­lar to loft­ing a shape along a spline, but with im­proved func­tion­al­ity and more con­trols. You can get com­plex and re­fined 3D text or other splines, us­ing ei­ther closed or open splines as the pro­file. I can’t tell you how of­ten I’ve run into bro­ken meshes or pinchy cor­ners try­ing to get a proper loft.

And then, of course, there is the MCG — the Max Cre­ation Graph editor. I men­tioned it for 2016, but Au­todesk just keeps on pack­ing in the func­tion­al­ity. New con­trollers like “Look At,” “Ray to Sur­face” and “Ro­ta­tion Spring,” along with ties into the Bul­let Solver, just give you more ways to dy­nam­i­cally con­trol the events in your scene. And they’ve added shapes and splines to the ob­jects you can ac­cess. Re­mem­ber, the tools you build with MCG can be bun­dled up and shared with oth­ers.

There is a ton of di­rect game en­gine sup­port now that Au­todesk’s St­ingray is in the loop. FBX is en­hanced to in­clude game-cen­tric pa­ram­e­ters. Bet­ter in­te­gra­tion be­tween shaders and ShaderFX into St­ingray. And, there is a new Scene Con­ver­tor, made to con­vert Max scenes to gameready scenes, or cus­tom­ized into batch files for other ren­der­ers. You can even set up a live link be­tween Max and St­ingray, al­low­ing you to use the game en­gine as a re­al­time ren­der en­gine for pro­to­typ­ing your mod­els and tex­tures.

Lots of tools and treats for the Max users out there! And they can be had for $185 per month or by one-, two- or three-year sub­scrip­tion.

The lat­est re­lease of The Foundry’s flag­ship, Nuke 10, is al­most all about sta­bil­ity and bug fixes. The list of fixes they’ve at­tended to is a gajil­lion miles long, and the re­sult is a plat­form that runs faster, runs smoother, and lets you spend more time mak­ing magic than wait­ing for the soft­ware to re­boot. That alone should be worth the up­grade. But, just to make things fancy, there are a few key new tools that’ll make life eas­ier.

If you are a Nuke user, you al­ready know about the 3D fea­tures and the ben­e­fit of hav­ing a scan­line ren­derer built into your comp. Be­cause, you know, who knows when you need to do a quicky pro­jec­tion that tracks prop­erly with a cam­era? Well, now you have a ray­trac­ing en­gine.

What does this get you? Am­bi­ent Oc­clu­sion, Re­flec­tions; cool things like that! Those things that nor­mally make you go ask your fel­low CG per­son for ex­tra passes and deal with eye rolling. Now you can just bring in your model as an Alem­bic and do it your­self. Win­dows in a city matte paint­ing would be a per­fect ex­am­ple — one of those things that add that bit of re­al­ism to shots. It’s not sup­posed to re­place the CG side of things, or even sup­plant a more ro­bust ren­derer avail­able for Nuke such as V-Ray from Chaos Group, but rather pro­vide those nice bits to make your comp sing with less fuss.

The other change is in a lit­tle tool called Ro­toPaint. It’s a tool that gets a bad rap be­cause it’s viewed as the tool of those low­est on the com­posit­ing totem pole. How­ever, with­out it, where would we be?

The Ro­toPaint tool in ear­lier ver­sions of Nuke had some lim­i­ta­tions, mainly be­cause it was do­ing so much la­bor. At about 200 paint strokes, things would bog down, cor­rupt or crash. And why wouldn’t it? It’s stor­ing up all that data and re­cal­cu­lat­ing ev­ery time you switch frames. In Nuke 10, Ro­toPaint is more sta­ble and ro­bust, and it’s faster. No longer do you have to break up your paint into mul­ti­ple nodes or pre­comp (al­though, that’s still not a bad idea).

All of this is good, right? Well, take that and com­bine Ro­toPaint with a new Vec­torBlur 2 node, and you are on your way to cre­at­ing mir­a­cles. Vec­torBlur 2 uses a move­ment anal­y­sis to cal­cu­late pixel-based trans­for­ma­tions on an ir­reg­u­lar sur­face. Think a talk­ing face, or a shirt blow­ing in the wind. What if the client wants to put a swab of paint on the face (yes, I’ve done this) or a logo on the shirt? Track­ing the el­e­ment would be ei­ther ex­tremely dif­fi­cult, or im­pos­si­ble. Vec­torBlur 2 will track the ir­reg­u­lar

Sony Image­works goes with 4K res­o­lu­tion for the time-trav­el­ing tale of Dis­ney’s se­quel By Bill De­sowitz.

t’s been six years since Tim Bur­ton’s Alice in Won­der­land, and di­rec­tor James Bobin ( The Mup­pets Most Wanted, The Mup­pets) wanted a more satir­i­cal tone for the se­quel, Alice Through the Look­ing Glass.

“The great joy of this film is time travel and ex­plor­ing Un­der­world more fully,” he says. “There’s a cer­tain Gothic tinge to Tim Bur­ton that has al­ready been es­tab­lished. And I like the idea of the world be­ing pe­riod in a mag­i­cal way. There are more hu­mans and it’s more real-world than the first movie.”

A lot of new tech also has tran­spired in the past six years, in­clud­ing blue-screen su­per­sed­ing green-screen and the as­cen­dance of the Sony F65 and ARRI Alexa cam­eras. Once again, Sony Pic­tures Image­works was at the helm on the movie, with Ken Ral­ston and Jay Redd han­dling pro­duc­tion VFX su­per­vi­sion.

“We were wilder with cam­eras, wilder with light­ing changes, and we had less on set than with the first film,” says Redd. “We thought it would be in­ter­est­ing to shoot 4K for al­most ev­ery­thing. And it was re­ally driven by the need to en­large the Red Queen’s head (He­lena Bon­ham Carter) by more than 50 per­cent to en­sure enough fidelity in our im­ages. So we went with the F65 for the ma­jor­ity of the blue-screen work and the Alexa for night shoots for Un­der­land.”

Dig­i­tal Close Ups In terms of char­ac­ter an­i­ma­tion, the Twee­dles (played by Matt Lu­cas) also were ap­proached dif­fer­ently to achieve greater fidelity of the face. “Work­ing with a cou­ple of our TDs, and Craig Went­worth, our dig­i­tal ef­fects su­per­vi­sor, we were able to shoot nor­mally on set and then map that onto a more de­tailed ver­sion of his face that we built in the com­puter.”

So as a re­sult of this new map­ping tech­nique, they’ve re­tained more of Lu­cas’ per­for­mance as the twins. “The an­i­ma­tors used the real footage along with ro­to­scop­ing, and the com­posit­ing meth­ods also be­came tighter and more ro­bust so you don’t see re­gions where you’re blend­ing the face into the model,” says Redd.

The new­est char­ac­ter, Time (Sacha Baron Co­hen), is a hy­brid clock ma­chine/per­son with a lot of CG en­hance­ment. Image­works filled his chest with a fully di­men­sional clock that looks Vic­to­rian steam­punk. And ev­ery time he turns around, you see CG brass and gold gear works along with steam and sparks pour­ing out. They also made his eyes glow and ap­plied dig­i­tal makeup when his skin breaks down late in the movie. Back in Time With Alice (Mia Wasikowska) trav­el­ing back in time to save her old friend, Hatter (Johnny Depp), from the depths of de­spair, she en­coun­ters younger ver­sions of many fa­mil­iar char­ac­ters.

“We had to build new ver­sions of those char­ac­ters (in­clud­ing the Twee­dles, Cheshire Cat, White Rab­bit and March Hare),” Redd says. “What would be a 12-year-old ver­sion? What changes over time would oc­cur from child or teenager into an adult? The Twee­dles, for ex­am­ple, were rounder but with softer fea­tures and less wrin­kles. Cheshire was smaller but fuzzier with larger eyes and shorter paws.”

Mean­while, for the “Oceans of Time” time trav­el­ing ef­fect, Image­works spent a year of R&D per­tain­ing to art-di­rected wa­ter sim­u­la­tion. “What if the ocean con­tained all of the mo­ments of mem­o­ries that have ever hap­pened? And in­stead of go­ing through a por­tal, what if you broke through sur­faces and were part of a vast, end­less ocean?” Redd says. “These vis­ual mo­ments ap­pear in­side the wave rather than be­ing pro­jected on top. Imag­ine a 180-foot wave tow­er­ing over you with an an­i­mated Cheshire Cat talk­ing to you from in­side it. There’s an ocean sur­face on top as well — you’re sur­rounded by waves and light­ning and stormy seas and spray.”

Time’s Cas­tle was even more of a mas­sive un­der­tak­ing, with ev­ery­thing in­side built dig­i­tally: a com­bi­na­tion of Gothic and Art Nou­veau flour­ishes. “It’s the big­gest, dark­est cathe­dral you could imag­ine, made up of ob­sid­ian and shiny, glossy sur­faces. But it even has its own at­mos­phere of clouds and smoke and steam. And the build­ing is also a clock made up of hun­dreds of thou­sands of gears, pis­tons, ca­bles and chains. It’s end­less and al­most Escher-es­que in its im­men­sity,” Redd says. Bill De­sowitz is Crafts Editor of Indiewire (www.indiewire.com) and the author of James Bond Un­masked (www.james­bon­dun­masked.com).

WILM goes for more nu­ance and sub­tlety in the act­ing to take the com­edy and ac­tion to a new level for By Karen Idel­son.

ith gen­er­a­tions of movie­go­ers in love with all things Teenage Mu­tant Ninja Tur­tles, film­mak­ers on the lat­est – and most ad­vanced – foray into this uni­verse set out to make this one spe­cial by fo­cus­ing on one thing: ac­tors.

Teenage Mu­tant Ninja Tur­tles: Out of the Shad­ows, this sum­mer’s se­quel to the 2014 Teenage Mu­tant Ninja Tur­tles re­boot, pushed Not Your Fa­ther’s

Cowabunga Since the TMNT movies are dy­namic ac­tion-come­dies, it was cru­cial that their sys­tem be more an­i­ma­tor-friendly so artists work­ing on the films would be able to pluck mo­ments from mul­ti­ple takes and stay true to the comedic tim­ing of the film.

There also were four teams at four In­dus­trial Light & Magic lo­ca­tions work­ing on the film at once. This meant co­or­di­nat­ing be­tween London, San Francisco, Van­cou­ver and Sin­ga­pore dur­ing the course of the movie.

“I think we had close to 900 char­ac­ter shots and about an hour and seven min­utes out of the movie,” says Hel­man. “So that’s al­most three quar­ters of the movie.” Tur­tle Spoiler Alert Film­mak­ers also aimed for the most sub­tle fa­cial ex­pres­sions pos­si­ble be­cause the tur­tles don’t just stick to com­edy. They face a dilemma, a choice — as you do when you’re a su­per hero type. The tur­tles have a chance to be­come hu­man, and must weigh whether to con­tinue as they are or be some­thing or some­one else.

For the Love of Michelan­gelo Since this film is part of a multi­gen­er­a­tional tra­di­tion, it should come as no sur­prise that TMNT an­i­ma­tion su­per­vi­sor Kevin Mar­tel felt a spe­cial con­nec­tion to the project, as some­one who’d been think­ing about the TMNT uni­verse for a long time.

“I was a big fan of the comic book and an even big­ger fan of the orig­i­nal an­i­mated se­ries back in 1988, and a big fan of the orig­i­nal movies as well,” says Mar­tel. “I def­i­nitely have my own fan needs and wants for this movie.”

Mar­tel be­lieves they hit their stride with this film since the ac­tors were more fa­mil­iar with the char­ac­ters and the per­for­mance cap­ture process and the tech it­self was so im­proved. The idea is to re­ally put au­di­ences in touch with the tur­tles’ per­son­al­i­ties.

“As far as the tur­tles, they stay true to their types and char­ac­ter­is­tics,” says Mar­tel. “Ev­ery­thing from their body pos­ture to their more sub­tle ex­pres­sions is in there be­cause we wanted to get in­side each char­ac­ter’s head and make their feel­ings come out for the au­di­ence.”

The team con­tin­ued to rely on Maya for this pro­duc­tion as well as some scripted in-house Maya add-ons, but largely the work of mak­ing the tur­tles so real came down to Mar­tel’s an­i­ma­tion team, which he says had to sum­mon “ev­ery an­i­ma­tor abil­ity” to make the film what it is.

“The most chal­leng­ing part of this film is the third act,” says Mar­tel. “It’s a fully CG se­quence at that point, so there’s no break in there any­where and you’re try­ing to do all this vis­ual sto­ry­telling as well as keep­ing the heart of the tur­tles in there for the au­di­ence.”

Mar­tel, a Michelan­gelo fan for pizza rea­sons, feels this project charts im­por­tant new ter­ri­tory for the film and the char­ac­ters. They’re more real and more is pos­si­ble be­cause of the merger be­tween the ac­tors’ per­for­mances and the an­i­ma­tors’ artistry.

“The enor­mity of this project had to do with the de­tail and the sub­tlety of the work,” says Mar­tel. “But the tur­tles are stronger be­cause they each have dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives on how to solve prob­lems and our team – which was lo­cated in four dif­fer­ent cities – had those dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives on solv­ing prob­lems, and I think ev­ery­one can re­late to that.” [

With hun­dreds of episodes and 18 fea­tures — and count­ing — un­der its belt, the quin­tes­sen­tial col­lectible card game-based fran­chise shows no signs of wear­ing out its wel­come. By Charles Solomon.

Crit­ics and au­di­ences were blown away by this ma­ture, emo­tion­ally deep fea­ture from Be­ing John Malkovich scribe Char­lie Kauf­man and co-di­rected by Duke John­son ( Moral Orel) — and the ground­break­ing stop-mo­tion an­i­ma­tion from Star­burns In­dus­tries didn’t hurt. In ad­di­tion to an Os­car and An­nie nom­ina- The lat­est fea­ture from di­rec­tor Mamoru Hosoda ( The Wolf Chil­dren, Sum­mer Wars), which took the 2016 Japan Acad­emy Prize for An­i­ma­tion, is a fresh tribute to the anime mae­stro’s feel for im­bu­ing fan­tas­ti­cal sto­ries with re­lat­able emo­tion and char­ac­ters. The 2D fea­ture in­tro­duces the

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