View Day 2: Wednesday 27.10.10

Ironman 2: Monaco Sequence Paul Davies,  Animation Supervisor, Double Negative

They shot this on location just before the actual Grand Prix. All the cars are fully CG as well as most of the set for the fight sequence.

The Ironman suitcase scene is a very special scene. A separate team was assigned to it and it was dealt with outside of the usual pipeline. They built custom rigging tools and even used Mental Ray for the rendering because the artist felt more comfortable using it rather than Renderman. The design and look of the suit also was special.  You only see this suit  in this particular scene. As it has to fit in a suitcase, it’s not the same design as the suit modelled by ILM. But even though it is different,  it still has to feel like Ironman.

I must say I am a big fan of this scene: totally love it. Apparently the team really sweated over this one… but man did they deliver! It looks AMAZING!   My most heartfelt congratulations to everyone who contributed to this scene.

For the fight sequence, they had to test out lots of choreography and animation ideas. They ended up using motion capture to be able to iterate faster. They also learned a valuable lesson: you should show a shot as filled in as possible. Never show block animation, add as many FX as possible and animate the props. For example,  just adding the whip changed everything for the director. He couldn’t “read” the animation properly without it.


Why animation rocks Tim Johnson, Director / Producer, PDI Dreamworks

It was very interesting to listen to Tim Johnson going over his amazing career and the different experiences and projects he contributed to.

1980 – 1985 Cel animation

1985 – 1988 Alias

1988 Pacific Data Images

1992 Pilsbury Doughboy This was a TV commercial and one of the first CG animated character to go on-screen.

1995 Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror VI”

1995 Dreamworks

1995 – 1998 Antz (Director)

2001 – 2003 Sinbad (Director)

2002 – 2006 Over the Hedge (Director)

2006 – 2010 How to Train Your Dragon (Executive producer)

2010 Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special (Director)

On a side note: we were lucky enough to see the Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special in 3D as a world premiere. Unfortunately it was in italian… Po isn’t quite the same when not voiced by Jack Black…  But still… nice stuff!


The Visual Effects of Avatar Bruce Holcomb, Digital Modeling Supervisor, ILM

ILM was brought rather late onto the project. Everything had already been decided: the look, the design, the models, the shots etc. They had very little wriggle room. Most of the assets had already been built by Weta, but as ILM have their own proprietary pipeline, they couldn’t just reuse them. They had to rebuild exact copies within their pipeline.

Lots of FX were involved in the shots they created. A few notable facts:

They used cloth sims to  make the grass move around when the helicopters land. Cameron was so specific about everything that he would actually come in with numbers for the force field values!

Even though Cameron wanted to go all CG, there is one practical effect in one of the ILM shots. When Jake first arrives on Pandora the big ship he lands in causes particles to swirl on the ground. These were  created by using a hose and blowing around different substances (walnut dust, baking powder, etc.) After several tests, they finally got the perfect effect and used it in the final shot.


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