A 'Spin' on Effects for 'Dolphin Tale 2'
October 20, 2014

A 'Spin' on Effects for 'Dolphin Tale 2'

TORONTO — Spin VFX created a splash recently, contributing visual effects to the feature film  Dolphin Tale 2 , which hit theaters recently.

The studio was tasked with creating a 3D likeness of the film’s star dolphin, Winter, as well as augmenting the live-action dolphins. 

“We had many shots where our CG dolphins were in frame with real dolphins. There was nowhere to hide,” says VFX Supervisor Colin Davies. “We had to get the performance, the look and the integration just right or the shot wouldn’t work. [VFX Supervisor Bob Munroe] had a wealth of experience coming out of the first film and our longstanding collaboration made close communication and creative short hand easy. Water is always a challenge, but over the years we have developed a lot of techniques that served us well in this film. We are all very proud of our work and I can honestly say it was a pleasure.” 

The Spin VFX team produced controlled CG dolphin performances and integrated them seamlessly into both live-action plates and CG water environments, above and below the surface. CG surface water simulations, water interaction with both live and CG dolphins, surface disturbance and undulation, splashes, underwater churn, reflections, refraction, and the look of wet skin were also added to create a realistic finish.

Munroe and VFX Producer Tony Meagher were a pleasure to work with,” says Neishaw Ali, Spin president and VFX EP. “They kept a tight production, very collaborative and always supportive.”

Davies, Animation Director Peter Giliberti, and Supervising VFX Producer George Macri led Spin’s team, delivering over 220 shots. 

Animators used Autodesk’s Maya to model, rig and animate the CG dolphins. Side Effects’ Houdini was used for complex water simulations and fluid dynamics. Specialized simulation development and rendering was required for dolphins interacting with water, close-up water augmentation treatments and seamless water replacements. The Foundry’s Katana, Pixar’s Renderman, and Houdini’s Mantra were used for look development, lighting and shading. Compositing was performed in Nuke.