Cinefex 119 - (Page 31)
Smaller creatures – known as ‘alien pets’ – are pitted against each other, as in a cockfight, and forced to fight for survival in the brutal environment of District 9. Far from friendly, the pets are aggressive carnivores capable of rending human flesh with their claws. Artists at The Embassy modeled the alien pets as hard-surfaced arthropods, with segmented scorpion-like bodies and fleshy tentacles around their mouths, and keyframe animated them with fast scuttling motions. Alien pet surfaces were rendered with reflections, specularity and subsurface scattering to simulate translucent shells. his gray suit,” stated Peter Muyzers. “Then the MNU performers really went to town, beating a stuntman dressed in the gray suit, wearing a protective vest.” Animators used rotomation of Cope and the stunt performer with keyframe adjustments. “In our first pass, we matched what was done by the actor,” Steve Nichols explained. “We then ‘insecticized’ it, adding tweaks and twitches to make the character’s motions more razor-sharp and alien, while retaining the performance. Each time Neill saw a take, he asked us to amp up the impacts. The harder we hit CJ, the more Neill liked the shot. I can’t remember seeing a digital performer getting the crap beat out of him this way before. He was bleeding, coughing up blood and saliva — it was intense.” To create the aliens’ mothership, Image Engine referenced Weta Workshop conceptual art of the ship, which resembled an enormous inverted industrial refinery. “The spaceship was supposed to be about two and a half kilometers in diameter,” Dan Kaufman noted. “It had tons of detail, which was very hard to create at that scale. We achieved that by modeling the piping at a bigger scale, and then using cards and tons of texture reference of real industrial buildings to beef it up to a finer scale.” For shots of MNU and television news helicopters hovering around the enormous floating disc, the production leased helicopters from a South African mining contractor. Image Engine then generated three makes of digital helicopter to supplement the practical aircraft, and added MNU logos. Image Engine also modeled and replicated fleets of Casspir armored personnel carriers, then added digital doubles of MNU infantrymen. Weta Digital took on mothership shots that did not include aliens. Image Engine supplied Weta with its mothership model and textures; Weta retooled the model for its internal pipeline and enhanced detail for scenes hovering close to the enormous space vehicle. “We packed a huge amount of geometry into the shots,” commented Weta Digital visual effects supervisor Matt Aitken. “We did a lot of modeling with curves, and used real-world-based textures with rust and corrosion. We dug out the weathering tool that we had developed for New York City in King Kong. That was a particle-based solution, which acknowledged the geometry of objects, and created running streaks quite nicely.” The production filmed mothership interiors on soundstage sets, including reference for a shot — added in the last month of postproduction — that reveals the mothership’s hold teeming with alien CINEFEX 119 ■ 31
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Harry Potter 6
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