February 2, 2007

Night at the Museum Brought to Life

Los Angeles - Visual effects company Rhythm & Hues used Massive 3D animation software from Massive Software on more than 30 shots of the feature film, Night at the Museum

Using Massive, Rhythm & Hues filled the screen with 3D crowds that come alive from within exhibit dioramas. The film journeys into the world of an after-hours natural history museum, where the displays are brought to life by an Egyptian curse. Twentieth Century Fox's Night at the Museum was directed by Shawn Levy and stars Ben Stiller. The film opened in US theatres on December 22, and was number one at the box office in North America over the holidays.

Among Rhythm & Hues' contributions on the film were 30 Massive shots in three major sequences, involving some 3,000 total characters -- Roman centurions and archers, Mayan Indians, cowboys, Chinese railway workers, pioneer men and women, and a western band -- all at 1/24th scale. Massive was also used for creation and positioning of catapults and arrows in battle sequences.

Night at the Museum required detailed characters appearing at 1/24th scale. Three main agents were built, each referencing approximately 100 different custom motion-captured actions.  Because of the small scale, motion capture did not have to be as detailed as for previous projects, allowing for real-world behavior to be achieved with fewer clips, each at longer running times.

The film's diorama room scenes, which include one major battle sequence, involve clashes between the Roman, Mayan and Old West characters as they fight for dominance of the museum hall. Ranks of Roman soldiers and cowboys, brought to life via Massive, face off in a skirmish that would have been extremely time-consuming to achieve in CG with any other solution.