November 20, 2006

Spooky FX: Guava Completes 20 Shots for Casper Feature Film

New York City - Visual effects studio Guava made its first foray into effects for feature films with Casper's Scare School, an entirely CG feature film finished in HD that premiered on the Cartoon Network during Halloween season recently.&
Guava VFX supervisor Alex Catchpoole completed 20 shots for the movie, including adding smoke to several shots, digitally relighting several scenes, and adding lens distortion. In several scenes, Catchpoole added smoke to several shots of Casper’s classroom after his teacher, an irritated dragon, nearly toasts the class with a blast of fire. This was done by manipulating real smoke to make it match the CG fireball effects, then tracking and color-correcting it to fit the scenes. Foreground objects were rotoscoped to give the shots more depth. Then, Catchpoole re-composited the fireball to make it larger and have more impact, which involved additional color correction of the classroom to give the effect that the room was being “lit up” by the fireball.
The digital relighting and shadow effect was done through color correction of supplied 3D elements and animated 2D reveal mattes created in Autodesk's Flame. The reveal mattes were animated to follow the rough contours of the body, and as the character moves forward, the mattes follow the movement, creating the effect of stepping out into the light. Catchpoole created a “coming out of the shadows” effect, adding lens distortion and digital broken glass to a telescope shot, and created particle animation for the spray of food.  
“Most of these were effects that evolved as the project came together,” Catchpoole says, “story points that needed a little extra punch.” Catchpoole enhanced a few shots of Casper traveling through a magical portal, and created the effect of him passing through the surface of the portal. There was also a transformation scene, where a young vampire transforms into a bat. He enhanced that transition with light and flow effects.
The movie builds on the work that company completed on other non-commercial projects.