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August 14, 2008

Coverage from Secrets Revealed at Siggraph 08

In front of around 2500 people, hell yeah we brought the energy and excitement during the Cloverfield panel. I heard yesterday afternoon from Morley over there that we rocked it, nice one gents!

posted by Eric Melin on August 13, 2008

Day two here tooling around in the Los Angeles Convention Center, running back and forth like a crazy man trying to cram as much stuff into a day as one man can. The only thing more popular than laptops and Starbucks at Siggraph this year is the double-feature panel featuring the visual-effects wizards behind "Cloverfield" and "Iron Man." Tippett Studio, who came off like excited, scrappy up-and-comers, and Industrial Light & Magic, who came off like the established old guard, split the bill today on a panel at Siggraph 2008 that revealed some of the secrets behind two of 2008's biggest FX-heavy blockbusters.

The Tippett team, headed by Eric Leven, gave the impression that the best kind of movie to work on is one with a limited budget and nothing to lose. Such a project was pitched to them as a kind of "Blair Witch meets Godzilla." Originally Cloverfield was budgeted at $25 million when they got the call from J.J. Abrams’ team to work up the monster, known affectionately as "Clover." Once the filmmakers got the original tests back from Tippett, the excitement they generated resulted in more money.

Director Matt Reeves had complete freedom and used a lot of trial-and-error when filming the monster movie's handheld look, so Leven and his team approached their job with the same volume of experimentation. Their A-number-one focus? To avoid making Clover look like a guy in a suit by steering as far away as possible from too much human-like movement.

It turns out that the jerky-camera aesthetic of the movie opened up a whole new bag of tricks for Tippett to use to make their monster seem more realistic. Screwing up the image only served to make the action seem more real. The monster was featured in blown-out lighting environments and out-of-focus and rack shots. Compositor Chris Morley captured an image of dust on his iPhone lens and overlaid that on the camera frame. Digital blood was smeared on main character Hud’s camera lens, and the Hud dummy used in the film was given to the Tippett team, who then smacked him around for hours on and into their own cameras.

The old-school pre-CGI idea of keeping most of your effects offscreen was a lifesaver for Tippett, saving time and money. It allowed the studio the ability to improvise, too, when word came from the production team at the last minute that they needed another effects shot. The new user-generated video craze helped Tippett as well, because the team looked at jarring camera moves on YouTube to get the feel for their own simulated camera movement just right.

Hal Hickel from Industrial Light & Magic revealed that there were only 40 shots in the entirety of Iron Man that actually showed the beautiful physical suits created by Stan Winston Studio. The rest of the film featured carefully melded versions of computer-generated graphics and the suits. Even star Robert Downey Jr. unknowingly contributed to the growing number of effects shots for ILM by staying away from the full body armor unless it was absolutely needed.

Hickel says that once Downey Jr. got a taste of the lighter-weight mocap suit, it was hard to get him to put the physical suit back on. But all is forgiven in Hickel's eyes because Downey Jr. gave ILM such a great character to work with. A guiding idea for a mechanical suit that flies with a tenuous human inside of it vs., say, a human-like all-powerful alien from another planet like Superman was this: Superman takes off fast and lands slow. Iron Man takes off slow and lands fast. Very important distinction.

Posted by dschnee at 6:56 AM

August 13, 2008

Tippett Studio @ Siggraph 2008

Tippett's making its foray into the 3-D arena, starting to get the hang of this viral video business, and reveal the secrets within "Cloverfield".

I posted this up back in March - Cloverfield Reel Accepted at SIGGRAPH 2008 !?!

Siggraph 2008 is well underway, the first day of the expo starts today, and this afternoon @ 1:30pm Tippett Studio and ILM will reveal some secrets from a couple sweet movies this year...

Wednesday, 13 August
1:45 - 3:30 pm
Hall B
Theme: SIGGRAPH Core

From monster-ravaged streets to the not-so-friendly skies. Tippett Studios demonstrates the evolution of their "Cloverfield" monster, from tactical shot designs that obscured the bulk of the creature to transforming a multi-camera, hand-held shoot into a stunning final reveal. Then, Industrial Light & Magic unveils Tony Stark's lair, the complexities of building an ironman, and how they swapped metal for pixels, rigging, animating, and lighting, before taking him to the skies in "Iron Man."

Ben Snow
Hal Hickel
Doug Smythe
Industrial Light & Magic

Eric Leven
Chris Morley
Devin Breese
Tippett Studio

Here are a couple of articles I found this morning, the first on 3D...
Catherine Owens: 3-D starts in the mind - Siggraph speaker urges auteurs to study format

VFX house Tippett Studio -- whose credits include Disney's upcoming "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" -- is making its foray into the 3-D arena with two soon-to-be-released short format 3-D projects: A theatrical logo for Texas Instruments' DLP Cinema and a theatrical commercial for Electronic Arts' "Spore."

The next talks about the viral videos we created for Beverly Hills Chihuahua - Viva Chihuahua - from the digitalcontentproducer siggraph2008 blog.

Posted by dschnee at 7:42 AM

August 8, 2008

SPORE's a Wrap!

It was a looong week (I put in around 70+ hours), but the crew took it home as we finished this one up just in the nick of time for our Friday crew screening of the freshly completed SPORE spot in 3D! @ Kerner Optical in San Rafael, CA. It looks pretty amazing in 3D on a big screen, that wacky 3D stuff really pops out at ya. The rest of the day was some what relaxing, came back for a crew photo and a BBQ, and we needed to finish prepping all the shots for digital delivery.

Things ended well and I look forward to seeing this spot out there wherever it will show up. It will definitely be playing in front of some 3D movies, but I'm not sure the plan to release a 2D version of the spot... If it shows up somewhere, I'll find it and post it up here though!

Wait so what is SPORE again? here is a brief intro into the game and it's 1rst stage of gameplay, the Cell Stage...

Posted by dschnee at 3:21 PM

August 1, 2008


How will you create the universe?

Today I'm helping out (just a couple of shots) on a spot for the highly anticipated video game SPORE, yeah I said it, highly anticipated... It is, I think. I don't know I don't play video games much anymore, the last game I played was at a friends house, it was Burnout Paradise on the PS3, it kicked some ass, before that I got into some Team Fortress 2 online. Way before that I'd have to go into the archives... Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Quake III, Quake II, Quake, Doom, and on into the ancient consoles and computer games from the past.

Anyhow, once this spot is released to the publics, I'll post it on zee blog. It's a groovy, abstract piece that I feel fits well with the game and the nature of it's content.

"With Spore you can nurture your creature through five stages of evolution: Cell, Creature, Tribe, Civilization, and Space. Or if you prefer, spend as much time as you like making creatures, vehicles, buildings and spaceships with Spore’s unique Creator tools.

CREATE Your Universe from Microscopic to Macrocosmic - From tide pool amoebas to thriving civilizations to intergalactic starships, everything is in your hands.

EVOLVE Your Creature through Five Stages - It’s survival of the funnest as your choices reverberate through generations and ultimately decide the fate of your civilization.

EXPLORE your world and beyond - Will you rule, or will your beloved planet be blasted to smithereens by a superior alien race?

SHARE with the World - Everything you make is shared with other players and vice versa, providing tons of cool creatures to meet and new places to visit." -spore.com

See some Movies and Screens right here...

Sounds pretty fun, you can download the Creator Creator now, and the game ships September 7th, 2008.

Posted by dschnee at 9:15 AM