View Day 1: Tuesday 26.10.10

Opening Talk “The Lighting of Toy Story 3” Kim White, Director of Photography, Pixar

Great talk by Kim White about different aspects of lighting in Toy Story 3: the challenges they faced, how they used the lights to serve the story and direct the viewer’s eye, the different color themes etc.

One of the challenges was to keep the Toy Story feel but still take advantage of all the advances in technology. Now they have  new tools at their disposal like occlusion, irradiance and reflection but they also had to stay true to the original Toy Story world. So what defines that world? There are lots of colors. Everything is very saturated. In the first two movies they even tinted the shadows to give more color. In Toy Story 3 they wanted to go for a slightly more realistic feel so they left that out. They also used a lot of indirect lighting: the character’s face isn’t always lit by the brightest light but by secondary bounce lights.

Now for the colors:
Blue=Andy and safety
Green=Bonnie. They also used alot of dappled lighting (lighting coming through trees) for these scenes.
Yellow and Red=Lotso. Bad and frightening.

She then went through a couple of scenes from the movie and showed us how these techniques were used and how the lighting enhanced the scene and what was happening in it.

One especially interesting scene is “Lotso’s backstory”. At the beginning everything is yellowish except for Lotso. He is lit separately and is very saturated and pink… until he gets replaced. He then is lit like the rest of the scene. This totally highlights the feeling that he was very special and unique. Oh and on a side note: they looked at Amelie Poulain for inspiration on this sequence…


Realflow Workshop Gustavo Sanchez Perez, Senior FX TD, Next Limit Florian Koebisch, FX TD, Pictorion das Werk
Seems like an interesting software to try out… Lots of cool features. I especially liked Hybrido which allows you to combine two different solvers: one grid based (for the base) and one particle based (for the details). So if aou are simulating an ocean crashing into rocks for axample. You can have the ocean base and then add particles to simulate the splashes and mist and foam. I’ll have to try it out!


“10 Obvious secrets in Animation” Craig Caldwell, USTAR Senior Research Professor, Digital Media University of Utah
Very interesting talk with lots of great references and examples. So here are the secrets!

  1. Basic skills that are transferable. not just learning the tools
  2. Weight
  3. Psychological gestures. Body language is the most important. Expressions and noth shapes will only work if you get the gestures right first.
  4. Thinking. If you can see the character think, this is what will lead you to no5
  5. Emotion
  6. Reference. Use all kinds of reference to get the animation right. (live action, other animation, yourself, etc)
  7. Audience ahead or behind. You should never loose your audience nor be too foreseeable.
  8. The gap. There has to be something unusual to make the story/character interesting
  9. Stereotypes. The gap works well with stereotypes.
  10. Change. The hero’s journey. The character has to undergo some kind of change during the story.


“The development of Nuke and Ocula in Support of Stereo 3D VFX Post-production” Simon Robinson, Chief Scientist, The Foundry

Wow I never thought S3d (stereo 3D) brought up so many challenges.  Just the rigs to be able to film with two cameras are really impressive. Then you have all the distortions and color corrections to deal with. The main problems the Foundry focused on when adapting NUKE for s3d were the following:

  • Color matching: With the rigs used to film with two cameras, one eye is filmed through a lens (polarized) and the other is not. You have to correct the color disparitied this will introduce.
  • Horizontal alignement: The cameras are never perfectly aligned. This has to be corrected or the audience will have a headache!
  • Rotoscoping: Automatic tools to transfer the rotoscoping that has been done for one eye to the other eye. Right now this tool doesn’t work very well yet.
  • Other lens issues: mismatched focal, focus, distortion etc.


“Career Realities for VFX” Pam Hogarth, Director of Marketing, Look Effects

Lots of great advice.

What does it take  to have a great career in VFX?
Of course: artistic ability, knowing the right tools, having the right degree and experience
But that is only half of it….
Collaboration, dedication, passion, communication, problem solving, flexibility, sense of humor, willingness to travel, willingness to learn, self motivation
are all very important and will take your career to the next level.

So what must you do?
Learn what you must, prepare your marketing package, network, market yourself, check your ego at the door and remember: it’s not YOUR vision.


“Enabling Wonderland: Technologies And Tools Developed For Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland” Parag Havaldar, Software R&D Supervisor, Sony Picture Imageworks

Lots of tools had to be developped to help the production of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. CG and live action were totally intertwined in this movie. Some characters were totally CG, some only half CG, some had a few features distorted by CG and scale went totally crazy during the whole with Alice getting bigger and smaller all the time.

  • Onset visualization
    With all this going on, they had to find a way to help the director get an idea of what the final result would look like. They used green screen live composition. They could triangulate the camera’s position and comp in the CG backgrounds on set so the director could immediately have an idea of where the characters were.
  • Pre composition for the Red Queen
    To get the big head effect, every scene was shot twice so they could get a very quick precomposition of the head of one shot (very high resolution) onto the body of the other.
  • Capturing performances
    They couldn’t use traditional motion capture as it was not set friendly. So they used inertial motion capture and developped a tool using a few optical markers to solve the root drifting problem you get with this technology.
  • Motion rig
    This was used for the scene during which Alice rides on the Mad Hatter’s hat for example. Alice had to experience the actual forces from the movement of the hat. To fake that, they built a big green motion rigged hat. They shot Johnny Depp’s performance and analyzed the movement of his hat. They then transfered that movement to the motion rig and shot Alice reacting to it.
  • Stereo
    Alice in Wonderland was not shot in S3D, it was converted in post. So they had to develop a pipleine to compute the second eye. (More about that in Parag’s second talk…


MPC Recruitment Presentation
Great prersentation. Totally made me want to work there even more… Fingers crossed!


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