The SkyCrawlers    


"I was amazed at the expressiveness we could give to our cloudscapes!"
Kou Hoshina San, CG Designer, Polygon Pictures



All images and videos used under permission, © MH/NI,BWDVYHDYCH


"The SkyCrawlers, Oshii's best since Ghost in the Shell", Dan Pearson, Cinefantastique.

Polygon Pictures, one of the leading Japanese CG studios, used Vue to create over 850 shots of Mamoru Oshii's latest anime movie, "The SkyCrawlers" (US release: May 26, 2009).

On top of many other awards, the film received the "Future Film Festival Digital Award" at the 65th Venice International Film Festival, and was an official selection of the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival.


"The Sky Crawlers" is an anime movie that mixes both traditional 2D art with full 3D sequences.



Interview with Polygon Pictures

The Polygon Pictures team used a combination of Vue Infinite, Maya and AfterEffects to create 850+ 3D shots for the movie.

The cameras were first animated in Maya and then brought into Vue thanks to the synchronization plugins. Once the cameras were synchronized, the artists could create the complete environments and cloudscapes using Vue Infinite's specialized tools. EcoSystems, infinite cloud layers and Metaclouds were invaluable assets to the team all along production.


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Clouds had to look "anime" rather than photo-realistic

The Polygon Pictures team particularly enjoyed the ability to "tweak" the cloud rendering engine. This ability was essential in achieving the dramatic, anime-style clouds they were looking for (instead of a more standard photo-realistic cloud look).

The team built a renderfarm of 1600 RenderCows for the rendering of the most render-heavy scenes, such as the fully animated cloudscapes (as an example, take a look at the impressive dogfight excerpt to the right!).

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Our Japanese partners, E-Frontier Japan, had the chance to interview the Polygon Pictures team and discuss the work with Vue. Following are 4 interviews of key players in the Polygon Pictures Vue-team:

Click on each image to launch the interview video (Flash player required).



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Naoki Ishihara, Producer.
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Hiroyuki Hayashi, CGI Supervisor.

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Kou Hoshina, CG Designer.

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Takashi Nagasaki, Lead CG Artist.


Video Excerpts and Stills from the Movie

Below is a series of video excerpts and stills from the movie, showcasing the use of Vue's EcoSystems, Spectral cloudscapes and MetaClouds.

Click on each thumbnail to view in full size.


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About Vue

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"I was amazed at the expressiveness we could give to our cloudscapes!"

Kou Hoshina San, CG Designer, Polygon Pictures.

"The most important thing we wanted to realize was the sea of clouds as it has a strong presence throughout the scenes.
We were really satisfied with the results we got out of Vue! It’s as if we were in real clouds with huge volumes!"

Takashi Nagasaki San, Lead CG Artist, Polygon Pictures.


Synopsis

"The Sky Crawlers" (original title: "Sukai Kurora") is based on a Japanese novel series by Hiroshi Mori.

First published by Chuokoron-shinsha in June 2001 and spanning five books, it follows the journeys and tribulations of a group of young fighter pilots involved in dogfight warfare, and is set during an alternate historical period.

The series is unlike other works by Mori, noted for his series of mystery novels. The art for the series is illustrated by mangaka Kenji Tsuruta.

In 2008, the series was adapted into an animated film, directed by acclaimed director Mamoru Oshii (who also directed "Innocence: Ghost in the Shell").



About Polygon Pictures

POLYGON PICTURES Inc. is a Japanese 3DCG anime studio.
They have animated a wide variety of content, from commercials for Shiseido, which included numerous of their original characters, such as the two penguins Rocky & Hopper, to the 3DCG anime TV series Digital Tokoro-san and their upcoming 3DCG anime film "Samuroid Zero".
In 2004, POLYGON contributed the 3DCG parts for Production I.G's Mamoru Oshii-directed "Innocence", the second feature anime film of the "Ghost in the Shell" universe, as well as his subsequent film, "The Sky Crawlers".

Polygon Pictures' Homepage: http://www.ppi.co.jp



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