Chronicles_of_the_Ghostly_Tribe_Trailer 4

This fourth ‘ultimate’ trailer shows off the wide range of VFX shots produced for the film.

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1999 LOTR CONCEPTS

The first concept work done on film for the LOTR trilogy, created for promotional purposes before the main shoot started. These used elements shot on film and scanned at a local print house (Weta’s scanner was 8 bit and comparatively lores at that time.) The comps were all done in EDDIE, one of, if not THE, first node-based compositing package created by Animal Logic. And even though I love the latest NUKE, EDDIE still had a better node view. (icons that visually represent their function; isn’t that the whole idea, FOUNDRY?)

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!

2011 SPARTACUS Vengence

For Spartacus Season Three the VFX requirements were a movable feast from 2.5D projected matte painting setups to camera solves and set extensions.

It was also the final call for our well established arena pipeline, and we were able to deliver render layers and crowd elements that looked better than ever before. The arena’s fiery destruction in episode five was a combination of complex rigid body dynamics, cloth simulations and hand animated fixes. Final compositing of all our elements was completed by DigiPost under the beautifully painterly art direction of Peter Baustaedter.

Late in the day, compositor Emrys Plaisted and I were given a major challenge: to replace the left eye of the character Oenomaus when it was cut out in the final episode. Although a physical prosthetic was used, it was decided to substitute a digital version after the shoot had wrapped. Delivering this effect in extreme close up was challenging, time consuming, exacting and ultimately very satisfying.