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Discreet’s Solutions FX Summer Blockbusters

Shapes major feature films with killer visual effects (August 31, 2004)

As summer blockbusters continue to roll onto the big screen, leading film studios and post-production facilities rely on Discreet’s products to produce mind-blowing moving images. Discreet, a division of Autodesk, Inc. today announced that its digital content creation systems and software have helped tell the stories of several recently released and upcoming feature films.

Feature films that have been shaped using Discreet’s solutions include: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (Hybride, The Orphanage, Grey Matter FX), Spider-Man 2 (Sony Pictures Imageworks, Radium, Ring of Fire, Zoic Studios), The Bourne Supremacy (ILM), Fahrenheit 9/11 (Rhino FX), I, Robot (Digital Domain, Rainmaker), The Village (ILM), Exorcist: The Beginning (Digital Dimension), and King Arthur (Cinesite).

R!OT Pictures, an Ascent Media company, used Discreet’s inferno system to complete 62 shots for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow . The film was shot entirely on blue screen, with the actors later composited into CG sets and locations. Compositors were challenged to achieve a consistent film noir look.

“The inferno system allowed for an initial R&D phase to set up a procedural pipeline that shortened the first phase of the production schedule. This was vital because the compositors needed time to heavily manipulate the original photography to achieve ‘the look’,” said Kenneth Nakada, director of VFX for R!OT Pictures. “The results were visually stunning with blooming highlights, stepped-on shadows, selective beauty softening, and selective color re-integration. The speed with which our inferno system handled all of these time-consuming tasks allowed for the many creative iterations necessary to achieve the wonderful aesthetic.”

The Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow shots completed by R!OT were part of the “Totenkopft’s Office” sequence in which the only physical object shot was a table buried under papers. “The large amount of compositing and the need for a consistent look throughout the film made these shots quite challenging and unique,” added Stefano Trivelli, compositor supervisor at R!OT. “Using the tools in the inferno system made the job easier while allowing us to achieve the look as well as the level of realism that was desired.”

Hybride also provided 122 shots for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow using the inferno system. The shots were part of the “Ice Cave” sequence where Sky Captain and his crew enter a massive cave that used to be a mine. Discreet’s inferno system was used to composite 3D components together and to match the lighting and atmosphere of each shot. Other post-production houses that worked on this film include The Orphanage, which produced 71 shots using Discreet’s 3ds max software and Grey Matter FX, which produced several shots using the inferno system.

ILM delivered 100 shots for The Bourne Supremacy using Discreet’s inferno and flame systems, several of which were used in the final high-speed car chase through Moscow. This complex scene was initially filmed in two main layers, with backgrounds shot in Moscow, and foregrounds filmed on a Berlin soundstage with Matt Damon in a Volga taxi against a green screen. Dirt and reflections were also later added to the car’s windshield and windows. Discreet’s latest keying technology and colour correction capabilities were used extensively to produced the vast number of seamless effects this scene required.

Sony Pictures Imageworks (SPI) used Discreet’s systems to create 108 shots for Spider-Man 2. The shots included the bank robbery, train and deli sequences, as well as the action-packed car chase. According to Lisa Deaner, senior flame artist at SPI, the post house used Discreet’s systems to speed up their creative process: “During Spider-Man 2, Discreet’s flame and burn systems helped us solve problems and realize creative ideas quickly, which became invaluable when layering 2K and Vistavision 12-bit plates. The interactivity was a perfect complement to our traditional node-based compositing pipeline.” burn is Discreet’s multi-node background processing solution for inferno, flame and flint systems.

Post-production houses Radium and Ring of Fire also worked on Spider-Man 2 and created 52 and 26 shots respectively, mostly using Discreet’s inferno system and combustion software.

California-based Digital Domain and Vancouver-based Rainmaker both worked on Twentieth Century Fox’s I, Robot . Using combustion software, Digital Domain completed 150 shots that involved removing actor Allen Tudyk out of plates and replacing him with Sonny, the murderous NS-5 robot. Rainmaker produced some 70 visual effects shots for the movie, using Discreet’s inferno system extensively on the “Lanning House” destruction sequence, in which Will Smith and the mansion narrowly miss being decimated by a huge demobot.

New York-based rhinofx faced a significant challenge working on Fahrenheit 9/11. The film was created using original and archival footage in both HD and SD formats. Edited at 30fps, the entire film was later eye-matched from the original source material by rhinopost to master in HD, while rhinofx performed video restoration to select scenes. “We used Discreet’s inferno system for stabilization, tracking, time warps and artifact removal,” explained Senior Executive Producer Camille Geier at rhinofx.

“Discreet is committed to providing systems and software that empower our clients and allow them to break down barriers to their creative visions,” said Martin Vann, vice president of worldwide sales and marketing for Discreet. “The captivating visual effects in this summer’s feature films are a testament to the fact that Discreet products allow digital artists to push their creative boundaries.”

About Discreet
Discreet empowers media professionals to realise the visual experience and transform their most evocative and ambitious visions into reality. Discreet's award-winning solutions are designed for digital media creation, management and delivery—across all disciplines from film and television visual effects, colour grading and editing to animation, game development, web/interactive, and design visualisation. Discreet is based in Montreal, Quebec and is a division of Autodesk, Inc, the world's leading design and digital media creation, management, and distribution company. Product and corporate information: .


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Related Keywords:Discreet, Autodesk, Hybride, The Orphanage, Grey Matter FX, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Radium, Ring of Fire, Zoic Studios, ILM, Rhino FX, Digital Domain, Rainmaker, Digital Dimension, Cinesite, R!OT Pictures, Ascent Media, Kenneth Nakada, Stefano Trivelli, 3ds max, Lisa Deaner, Camille Geier, Martin Vann,

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