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Computer Graphics in Film. Rafael Sabino 9/14/2004 Topics in Computer Science. My Purpose. Give a general idea of how computer graphics special effects are done in movies The Perfect Storm:

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Computer Graphics in Film

Rafael Sabino


Topics in Computer Science

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My Purpose

  • Give a general idea of how computer graphics special effects are done in movies

  • The Perfect Storm:

    • Portrays the struggles of a six man crew on the Andrea Gail caught in a meteorological phenomena called the perfect storm.

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  • Why is the movie important in graphics?

    • Until then, no studio tackled so much digital water in so many forms

    • Water is one of the most difficult objects to create and make look realistic

    • Company that created the digital effects was Industrial Light and Magic (ILM)

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How much did it take?

  • A crew that grew to be about 120 people

  • It took about 14 months to create a total of 340 shots

  • 250 shots or about 30 minutes of the film include digital water

  • 100-foot by 92-foot tank and a full sized model of the Andrea Gail

  • Among others

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The Film Process – How is it Done?

  • After a production studio decides to make a film, they choose a director, which in turn chooses a special effects company

  • Once this is decided, the film process starts

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  • First step is to create a story and/or the script

  • From the script, the special effects team creates storyboards

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  • A collection of still drawings, words and technical instructions that describe each shot.

  • A typical film has an average of 2000 shots!

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The Film Team Divides and Conquers

  • Different groups are created, among these are:

    • Sets Designers (design and construct sets)

    • Research and Development

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The Film Team Divides and Conquers (continued)

  • Stunt Team

  • Physical Effects Team (prepares anything not CG)

  • Wardrobe

  • Camera, lighting, and sound equipment

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  • Once all teams are divided, the film crew enters the production stage

  • Production: the process of filming live-action shots

  • It involves actors and stunts people working on site or on set to get all of the footage

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  • Once production finishes, post-production starts

  • What happens here?

    • Parts of the film where effects need to be added are digitized

    • Creation of shots where CG and live action are combined

    • Creation of shots which contain miniature models and CG

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Post-Production (continued)

  • All CG Shots are rendered

  • Stunt shots get touched up to remove wires, etc.

  • Shots get cleaned and color corrected

  • The entire film gets amalgamated from all of the shots

  • Film gets mastered, duplicated, sent to a theater near you!

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ILM’s role in the Film Process

  • Upon reaching an agreement with the director, ILM chooses its visual effects supervisor for the project

  • A crew of 120 was assembled for the 340 shots of the film

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ILM’s Role: Storyboards and Animatics

  • The film is carefully planned out, shot by shot, to match the overall vision director has for film

  • Storyboards are used

  • Animatics: insures director planned shot will work

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ILM’s Role: CG Shots

  • Total of 340 shots were created

  • 90 of the shots where completely CG

  • 220 have CG water or another CG element

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ILM’s Role: Water Effects

  • ILM’s job was to simulate all water effects closely enough so that artificial water could be conglomerated with real water realistically

  • A good understanding of how air, water, and solid objects interact with each other was essential for the realism of the movie

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ILM’s Role: Water Effects

  • In addition to studying the physics of water, the team observed and annotated how light affects its appearance

  • Once all background research was done, an ocean water simulator was created to emulate the ocean water found in the movie

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ILM’s Role: Water Effects

  • Basic fluid dynamic simulation provided the foundation for the body of the ocean

  • Most 3D modeling work was done using off the shelf software called Maya

  • About 30 plug-ins written in C++ where created for this movie

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ILM’s Role: Water Effects

  • Multiple particle systems were created to ape the complex physics of the ocean

  • A collision model was created to dictate what particles should do when colliding with themselves or other objects

  • Shaders were used to create the look of the CG environment

  • In some shots, billions of particles had to be created

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Putting It All Together

  • A shaded version of the Andrea Gail

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Putting It All Together

  • The colored and textured version of the Andrea Gail

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Putting It All Together

  • The simulated ocean

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Putting It All together

  • Run off from wave crashing over the boat

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Putting It All Together

  • A wave of particles created by the boat’s movement in the water

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Putting it All Together

  • Splash created by boat crashing into wave

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Putting It All Together

  • The lighting model

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Putting it All Together

  • Frame of final shot with all layers put together

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Moral Issues

  • How far will technology go?

    • Some fear that technology will replace humans as it gets more sophisticated

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