2012 SPARTACUS War of the Damned

The finale of the Spartacus saga was huge in scope; the ultimate showdown between the armies of Rome and the followers of rebel gladiator. There was only one practical way to deliver tens of thousands of people fighting to the death: Massive – the crowd simulation software developed for Lord of the Rings.

Setting up the Massive pipeline for Spartacus was a big challenge – I’d never seen this many shots of this complexity done at a TV turnaround pace, and the requirements of the script were enormous in both scale and behaviour.

Using Massive’s existing ‘ready-to-run’ agents and with custom agents created by Stephen Regelous, I embarked on a frenzy of simulation, revision, refinment, rendering and repairing. With renderwall processors running at 98 degrees Celsius during Wellington’s hottest summer in 20 years, I delivered shots of 40,000 agents in multiple-layered EXRs at resolutions of up to 8k and durations of up to 1500 frames.

Sheer insanity! The final result was worth the pain – incredible compositing of 3DCGI’s elements by Digipost and Cause+FX enabled Charlie McClellan and Peter Baustaedter to deliver some of the most complex, extensive and simply ‘Massive’ VFX shots ever seen on TV!

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