Sunday, April 20, 2014

Special Effects in Animation and Live-Action

Special Effects in the film industry has grown tremendously, this method gives a film a cool feel, It is an interesting way to tell a story in a more believable way. Many directors have used many elements to make their films more interesting since the end of the 1800s. Directors have used animation, and stop motion to make a believable story and capture the audience’s attention. Movies such as the King Kong are a perfect way of using stop motion, and many more special effects were added to many other films that it became a really important part of the film industry.  In the 1990’s computer Generated imagery (CGI) had evolved and gave the filmmaker the opportunity to be much more realistic and maintain safety while doing the effects. Computer revolutionized the way audience see movies because of its possibilities and the endless amount of effects that can be created and added it films. In this paper I will compare special effect between the waves from the movie Deep Impact (1998) and the waves from the animated movie Surf’s Up. They both are computer generated and they are both realistic waves and oceans although in different styles.
Deep Impact
            In the movie Deep Impact (1998) the water looks very realistic although it might not be correct in terms of speed, force, texture the especial effect artist did a very good job to make it believable. The transparency and the waves are very well executed and framed nicely to give the up and down shot a very dramatic scene. The transparency of this effect is close to the real liquid and it has a nice feel of volume that makes it look heavy. In the movie Deep Impact, when water is about to destroy New York city, it show the waves rise very high that the actual scene looks very realistic. This special effect might have taken a ton of computer-generated power to render; it is close to what would have happened in the real scenario. However, many steps took place in order to made the scene look real. For example, when the waves destroy the bridge, the artist had to take off the plate of the bridge and replace it with a CG model.
Many of the special effects were created using Softimage software and ILM’s proprietary code. The set that they built the bridge, overtaking, the building, the cars, and the debris were made in Maya 3D or Alias back in 1998. And many live action shots took place and were replaced with the CG model when they showed the destruction.  The artist had to used tons of references on how the ocean and waves behaves and well as the study of physics. Artist also many scientific theory on how the water behave after the comet hits the ocean just like in the movie deep impact. The particle system that they used was a better choice but they couldn’t tell what was the exact result after rendering. This effect took a long time to render since they rendered several million particles and they had to use all the processors that they had in spite of the powerful system that ILM had in place.
Surf’s Up
           Surf up is a very interesting and complex animated movie. The way the production used and integrated of live action and the wave rig system was unique because of the way the animator interacted and animated the waves. However the system was too sensitive that it could make the controls used to animate the waves look unrealistic. At the same time to animate the waves they had to use a lot of references on how water behaves, surface, trails, as well as whitewater simulation. Animating the waves was a real challenge, as well as the care and time that it took to make the waves work the waves were animated so the secondary effect would follow in a nice manner. This wave animation was rendered in Maya, Houdini, and render Man software. This process took many months, Parts of the wave was made from Nurbes Primitives in Maya3D software and used many blend shapes and lofted curves profile to made the waves, which were placed together to made the waves. Many tests have to be done to make the look believable and many wave trains. Animators used the Wave Visualizer system to simplify the visual of the waves on how it was going to behave. Many particles were used to achieve the look of whitewater or splash effect. Many other steps took place in order to make the water.  Rendering the ocean by itself was or made a hole in the ocean with the displacement shader was the best way to combine the ocean and the waves.
There were many other difficulties or considerations about making a wave. The process took many months to develop, such as wave patch, energy, wave variation and direction, but most of all the most difficult task was to make the waves crashing from cross section. In addition, the other difficult part was to add motion blur to the waves in order to make it look very realistic.

            Many filmmakers have innovated the use of computers to make something much more believable, and safe when making complex scene where it needs to show an explosion, fire, blast, or any other dangerous attempt in place of creating a real explosion. In the 1930’s many of the movies had created the special effects by using the stop motion to create an effect that the characters were actually moving. Even today the movies from that time still look very realistic. But with the invention of the computer it is easier to make something very complex in order to make something look very realistic. CGI has helped the filmmakers to make live action, animated 3D films in a way that tells a story in a very convincing way. In these movies Deep Impact and Surf’s Up, the waves are very realistic even though they each are very different. One is more realistic and the other is a stylized, but at the same time both are very complex to do but believable.

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