Autodesk Tools Help Destroy the Universe in Roland Emmerich's 2012
December 9, 2009

Autodesk Tools Help Destroy the Universe in Roland Emmerich's 2012

San Rafael, Calif. - Roland Emmerich films are synonymous with superlative visual effects--The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, and now 2012. Hundreds of artists created nearly 1500 visual
effects shots using digital entertainment creation software from Autodesk Inc. to help create the majority of the spectacular effects in 2012.
The Maya civilization left humanity its calendar, with an end date of 2012.
This date is significant to many cultures, religions, scientists, and
governments. The Mayan prophecy has been well-chronicled, discussed and
examined. 2012 is an epic adventure film about a global cataclysm that
brings an end to the world and tells of the heroic struggle of the
survivors. 2012 is directed by Roland Emmerich, written by Harald Kloser
& Roland Emmerich, and produced by Harald Kloser, Mark Gordon, and Larry

"The scale of visual effects in 2012 is astounding. This film is a
perfect case study for the breadth of our portfolio of filmmaking products,
including our 2007 Technical Achievement Academy Award-winning Maya visual
effects software," says Stig Gruman, vice president of digital
entertainment, Autodesk Media & Entertainment. "Autodesk tools are designed
for creativity, flexibility and interoperability, freeing creative
visionaries, artists and production teams to focus on the work as opposed
to the technology." In an interview with MSN, Roland Emmerich, "2012"
director, co-writer and executive producer, said, "Basically, it's the
digital technology which is so amazing. It gives you a new freedom and I
really use that to the max."

Uncharted Territory, the lead visual effects (VFX) house and co-producers
of 2012, created over 400 shots mainly using Autodesk 3ds Max software
for modeling, UV mapping, rigging and animation; Autodesk Maya and Autodesk
Softimage software products for modeling; and Autodesk MotionBuilder
software for pre-visualization, motion capture and final animation. As a
co-producer and VFX supervisor on the movie, Marc Weigert says: "We've been
using 3ds Max since our company's inception, so it's almost tradition.
There are also countless plug-ins for this amazing software, making it even
more essential to the success of our shots."

Uncharted Territory created the total destruction of fully computer-generated (CG) photoreal Los
Angeles and Las Vegas. CG Effects Supervisor Ari Sachter-Zeltzer says: "3ds
Max software's OpenEXR format allowed us to push through an amazing volume
of work in a relatively short time." Weigert adds, "Autodesk FBX format
was another real time saver. It eased file exchange between the various
Autodesk software packages and helped us deliver on budget and on

Double Negative used Maya to help create over 200 shots, including the
destruction of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. The destruction
involved smoke and dust simulation, digital crowds and a fully CG
environment. In addition, Double Negative built a massive volcanic rock and
ash cloud, lava eruptions and cracking fault lines in Yellowstone Park. CG
Supervisor Gavin Graham says, "Maya is at the core of our pipeline and was
an essential hub for our workflow. From the start of the process in our
layouts, animations and asset creation, through to completion, its
scripting capabilities allowed us to manage scenes of enormous complexity.
We found Maya particularly beneficial for our dynamics and lighting
pipelines. It helped us generate elaborate yet believable effects in an
artist-friendly way."

Sony Pictures Imageworks (SPI) completed 154 shots, including a colossal,
CG environment of a massive shipyard constructed inside the Himalayas. SPI
seamlessly integrated these digital set extensions with live-action plate
photography. John Haley, SPI CG supervisor, says, "Maya allowed our
modelers to build nine one-kilometer-long ships complete with thousands of
passengers, hundreds of ship workers and dozens of vehicles. In addition,
our modeling team created several square kilometers of rugged terrain high
in the mountains and relied on the layout and animation capabilities in
Maya to bring these enormous fully CG scenes to life."

Scanline VFX artists created over 100 complex water simulation shots,
including an aircraft carrier on a tidal wave crashing into the White
House. Scanline VFX's toolbox included 3ds Max, the VRay plug-in and a
proprietary simulation system, Flowline. "Over 95 percent of our shots were
fully CG, and creating them required 1,200 terabytes of disk space. The
advantage of 3ds Max is that it can handle enormous data sets and you can
just do a lot of the work right out of the box," notes Stephan Trojansky,
Scanline VFX senior visual effects supervisor.

Evil Eye Pictures delivered 45 green screen and environment shots for
2012. John L. Jack, co-founder of Evil Eye, says, "We used Maya
software's particle and fluid effects to create CG snow and CG breath for a
key sequence, and to do our environment and matte painting integration work."