July 27, 2006

Autodesk puts the sizzle in this summer's blockbusters

From computer-generated sea creatures to entire virtual cities, digital artists relied on Autodesk's media and

entertainment solutions to realize stunning visual effects for this summer's hottest films. The postproduction facilities delivered blockbuster action, adventure, and dramatic content created with Autodesk's advanced visual effects, animation, editing, and digital color-grading solutions.

Autodesk's Discreet Inferno system was used by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) as part of its proprietary SABRE visual effects system to create supernatural scenes for Lady In the Water. In one sequence, a giant eagle-like bird swoops in and rescues the film's heroine. The rescue is shown through a reflection in the water. Digital artists at ILM used Inferno to create the distorted look of the reflection and to add lightning and rain to the scene. The system was also used to add shadows, mist, and rain to a scene where branch monsters drag away a scrunt—a dog-like grass monster; and to create the mystical ball of mud that Cleveland Heep, the film's hero, needs to retrieve from the heroine's lair in order to save her.

ILM also helped bring to life the misguided escapades of Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. One of the scenes shaped by ILM shows Will Turner and the crew of the Black Pearl captured by cannibals and held in a round cage made of bones hanging over a ravine. Inferno was used to composite together shots of the actors filmed against a blue screen, a water plate, and a digital matte cliff, as well as to add birds, mist, and foot bridges to the scene. The system was also used to texture, light, and animate Ragetti's wooden eye. Artists at ILM used Autodesk Maya 3D animation software to rig Davy Jones and the Kraken sea creature's tentacles.

Specializing in digital cosmetic enhancements, LOLA VFX also used Autodesk's Discreet Inferno system as a fountain of youth for the opening sequence of X-Men: The Last Stand. Digital artists relied on reference footage, consultations from plastic surgeons, and special techniques developed with Inferno to make Professor Xavier and Magneto look up to 20 years younger. While digital cosmetic fixes such as wrinkle reduction, eye enhancements, and dental corrections are becoming more common in film, this is the first time that such a drastic age-reduction effect has been undertaken, according to company claims. LOLA VFX's sister studio Hydraulx also worked on the film, completing 235 shots with Inferno, Flame, Burn, Maya, Autodesk Combustion desktop compositing software and Autodesk Backdraft media management and I/O software.

The facility also used Maya to create a digital double of actor Ben Foster (who plays the part of Angel), as well as to give him computer-generated wings.

Other summer films created with Autodesk solutions include

Click—Sony Pictures Imageworks used Maya for animated characters, set creation, and light placement

The Da Vinci Code—Double Negative used Maya for approximately 80 computer-generated shots, including Robert Langdon's eidetic memory

Poseidon—ILM used Maya to model 181,579 renderable pieces that were then fit together to create the film's 1100-foot-long computer-generated luxury cruise liner. Hydraulx also worked on the film using Inferno, Flame, Combustion, Burn, Maya, and Backdraft

Mission: Impossible III—ILM used Maya and Inferno as part of its proprietary SABRE visual effects system to create a computer-generated city of Shanghai, as well as a variety of realistic action scenes for the film

Krrish—EFX, a division of Prasad Labs, used Maya, Combustion, 3ds Max, Flame, the Discreet Smoke editing and finishing system, and the Discreet Lustre digital color-grading system to create this Bollywood superhero film.

For more information and to view imagery, visit www.autodesk.com/SummerBlckbusters.