"Vue is a key component of our senior matte painters' toolset."
As the lead VFX company on Baz Luhrmann's "Australia", the renowned Sydney-based studio Animal Logic was awarded the task of designing and creating the key VFX shots that take place in the port town of Darwin.
The challenge of Darwin was to create a full CG environment, including terrain, period buildings, vegetation and a wharf full of ships of all shapes and sizes.
Emmanuel Blasset, CG Supervisor on "Australia" shares with us an insight on how they introduced Vue to their pipeline, for the creation of over 20 shots of the movie.
About The Crew at Animal Logic
E-on: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What’s your background experience in the movie industry?
Emmanuel Blasset: I have been working at Animal Logic for over 8 years on projects such as "Farscape", "Matrix Reloaded", "Happy Feet"...
More recently as a CG supervisor, I have been responsible for the technical planning, implementation and execution of shots on "Australia".
Was this the first time you got to use Vue on a project?
EB: Yes it was. We knew we had a challenge when we were first approached to create large tropical digital sets for "Australia". Our lead matte painter Tim Warnock proposed Vue as part of the solution for the vegetation. After some initial yet very promising tests, we decided to integrate Vue into our VFX film pipeline.
For how long did you work on Australia? How many people worked on the movie? And how many of these worked with Vue?
EB: Animal Logic has been on the project for 18 months using a crew of about 80 people to create 185 shots. Vue was used by 3 matte painters and 2 TDs across 20 shots. I was lucky enough to be involved from preproduction until the end of project.
Can you tell us exactly what you were using Vue for? Did you use Vue in combination with any other 3D app?
EB: We have used Vue exclusively for vegetation across our Darwin digital sets. It was a key component of our senior matte painters' toolset.
On more complex CG shots, Vue xStream was used in combination with our main 3D application, Maya.
Because of our rendering pipeline using primarily Mayaman and Renderman, some additional integration was required.
We first explored using the geometric exporter but we quickly recognized that a lot of Vue's strength lay within its shading, lighting, rendering engine. In order to keep those qualities without compromising our own rendering approach we opted for a 3D baking solution.
How did you manage to integrate the Vue plants with local vegetation?
EB: We had a very clear target in terms of vegetation defined by the art department. Using 3rd party trees and shrubs from www.cornucopia3d.com proved to be a very cost effective solution as all of our library requirements were met, and required very few tweaks.
How did you match the camera moves?
EB: Every single shot went through the tracking department producing a usable tracked camera and locators suitable for all 3D and compositing applications supported by our pipeline. For simple matte painting shots, the tracking information was reintroduced at compositing stage. For more complex moves with obvious parallax, trees were rendered directly from the 3D package with the moving camera.
How many computers were used to render the Vue scenes?
EB: Thanks to the baking approach we only needed 5 machines to render our Vue scenes.
Did you save time using Vue over doing the same job in a traditional way?
EB: In a typical matte painting situation, a traditional technique based on photographs requires a lot of research, placement, and corrections to integrate within a shot.
As soon as another shot uses a different angle or time of day, all that work has to be redone. Using Vue allowed setups to be transposed from one shot to another. Ultimately this translates into quicker turnaround across multiple shots.
What was your overall impression of Vue?
EB: Photorealistic organic moving environments are very challenging. After the very good result and experience using Vue for vegetation, I look forward to using the environment and atmosphere features on our next projects.
What would be your wishlist for an upcoming release of Vue?
EB: On the future development side, support for Renderman would be greatly appreciated.
Official Movie Trailer and Synopsis!
In northern Australia at the beginning of World War II, an English aristocrat inherits a cattle station the size of Maryland. When English cattle barons plot to take her land, she reluctantly joins forces with a rough-hewn stock-man to drive 2,000 head of cattle across hundreds of miles of the country's most unforgiving land, only to still face the bombing of Darwin, Australia, by the Japanese forces that had attacked Pearl Harbor only months earlier.
About Emmanuel Blasset
Emmanuel Blasset immigrated to Australia from France with his family in 1994. He returned to France in 1997 to complete a 3-year degree in IT before settling back in Australia.
On completion of a diploma in Computer Graphics and Animation from Sydney's Computer Graphics College in 2000, Emmanuel joined Animal Logic as a trainee.
During his career at Animal Logic, Emmanuel has served as 3D artist on a number of high-end film and television projects, including Farscape (seasons 2 & 3) for the Sci-Fi Channel; the feature film The Man who Sued God; and Andy and Larry Wachowski's 2003 hit film Matrix: Reloaded, in which he worked on the Twins characters.
Emmanuel then went on to serve as Lead Technical Director and Lighting Sequence Lead for the Academy Award®-winning animated feature film Happy Feet. In this role, he co-led 12 artists in the Lighting department through the complex processes of the animated feature film pipeline. Emmanuel and his team of lighters were responsible for developing the tools and techniques that helped artists achieve realistic lighting for the film's characters and environments. As a sequence lead on the film, he was instrumental in the tools, management and eventual look of the film.
Emmanuel recently served as CG Supervisor on Director Baz Luhrmann's epic feature film Australia, where he was responsible for the set up and execution of the company's pipeline on the film, and overseeing all technical aspects related to delivering Animal Logic's work on the project.
About Animal Logic
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