Reality Check Studios Taps Macs for
Tricky Titan AE Sequence
by Denise Harrison
year 3028 and Earth has been destroyed. The only key to saving the
human race is held in a legendary spacecraft called The Titan. Whats
a superhero to do?
Well our main
man, Cale, who was precocious enough to have escaped Earths
destruction at the age of five, sets out to find the Titan, of course,
and, along the way, has to learn to drive a spacecraft to get around
His first driving
lesson is a 3.5-minute sequence done by Hollywood-based Reality
Check Studioswith a little help from the Macintosh (and an
Intergraph NT box).
a relationship with David Dozoretz, head of animatic at LucasFilm,
who took time off in between Star Wars projects to work on Titan
AE," explains Kory Jones, co-founder of Reality Check Studios
(RCS). "They liked what he did so well that they gave him the
final shot, then gave him some more sequences. I went up to work
with them because they were so overloaded."
The first project
assigned to RCS was the animatics for a sequence called "Wake
Angels." Once the animatics were approved, they were assigned
the final shot.
is the ship flying through a nebula and during his first time flying,
he plays "tag" with these creatures called Wake Angels,"
says Jones. "The environment itself was the tricky part. Creating
a nebula is quite nebulous."
Jones said the
nebula had to be self-luminated, yet luminated by stars on either
end of the travel path. It had to be opaque enough for there to
be pieces to dodge, yet translucent enough not to look like fire
or seem threatening. It had to have a cloud-like quality, and be
all those together and you get this indefinable thing that took
a lot of experimentation to identify a technique," says Jones.
"We did a lot of experimenting with particle effects with Maya
and wrote some of our own rendering applications to do the shaded
He said he took
polygon shapes rendered in ElectricImage and did the necessary number
of layers, then did a lot of work in Adobe After Effects.
to build the nebula like an oil painting, layers for the light from
the stars, layers for the color, layers for transparency then a
displacement layer that took the edges off the columns to give them
that cloud-like feel," he says.
The Wake Angels
themselves began as models that came from Fox Animation. "We
added motion in Maya and did some work on the look of the material.
The biggest experiment with the Wake Angels was the motion. We wanted
them fluid, like a marine animal in motion. We put ripples on their
edges and their wings now go up or down depending on their angle."
to RCS is that, while it has an extensive portfolio, Titan AE is
their first foray into feature film work.
planned to start a film department but were waiting for the right
opportunity," says Jones. "Now that we have a film in
our portfolio, well push to do more both from a pre-visualization
stage all the way to the final effects."
He says the
tools are rather agnostic and it doesnt matter what project
theyre doing. They use the Adobe Suite, Alias|Wavefronts
Maya, and Plays Electric Image.
Maya to fall back on was a huge benefit for organic animation,"
he says. "I dont think there is anything better out there.
We started using it last year and the build-up time paid off for