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Luma Pictures Powers "Zoom"

Studio Creates VFX for Sony Pictures Release (August 11, 2006)

Luma Pictures produced approximately 80 visual effects shots for Zoom, the new Sony Pictures feature opening August 11. The studio's work included visual effects design, compositing and 3D animation. Among the latter were three scenes demonstrating the miraculous powers of the students of an academy for super heroes. Luma's team had a hand in designing many of the effects that it created for the film.

The nature of the VFX in Zoom allowed Luma to rediscover its ?generalist roots. ?The typical films weve work on in recent years have required us to segment work among teams of specialists to handle the complexities associated with CG creatures and CG environments, observed Luma Pictures visual effects supervisor Payam Shohadai. ?But for Zoom, much of the work was better served by having individual effects shots executed by artists with generalist skills who could oversee a shot from start through completion. Zoom was a great opportunity to revisit and fine-tune our pipeline to serve this generalist approach.

For one scene, artists created an effect where a character causes an apple to slowly vanish through the power of his mental energy. "We used a volumetric rendering technique coupled with a fluid simulation to produce the main element," recalled Luma Pictures CG supervisor Vincent Cirelli. "The end result is an apple which disappears dimensionally towards its core."

A somewhat more complicated effect involved a character who uses super powers to repair a spaceship engine. "We needed to convey the concept that the spaceship engine is not operating properly in the beginning of the sequence due to a misconfigured reactor," Cirelli explained. "To illustrate this, we designed a series of geometric interlocking cylinders that could only fit together if rotated in a specific way. The design of this puzzle presented many challenges in that we needed to allow clearance between the shapes to rotate and translate precisely into place in three dimensions."

A third sequence involved a paint ball fight. In that scene, a group of characters comes under a paint ball barrage and Luma's role was to create the colorful balls in CG so that their flight paths could be individually controlled. "We realized early on that the paint balls would need a special compositing treatment to make them visible during the dynamic lighting scenarios encountered throughout the sequence," said Cirelli. "To accomplish this, we assigned a shader that allowed us to select and change specific balls on a case by case basis very easily. When you watch the sequence, you accept the balls as real."

Stylistically, the effects work for Zoom was a departure for Luma. The studio has earned high regard for the photo real quality of its effects work, but in this instance many of the effects required a look of heightened reality. ?Since Zoom is a kids movie, elements must easily read on screen, explained Luma VFX producer Steve Swanson. ?The paintballs we created for the training sequence initially were made to be photo-real. However, the client asked that they be modified?that they be brightly lit, with bright, over-saturated colors. Our challenge then was to maintain realism while accommodating a somewhat exaggerated appearance.

Luma Pictures is a leading provider of visual effects services to Hollywood with a reputation for artistic integrity, technical innovation and efficient production. The company served as lead visual effects provider on Underworld: Evolution, one of the biggest hits of 2006 and widely acclaimed for its incredible creature and environmental effects. Some of the studios other credits include HootThe CaveInto the BlueSky Captain and the World of TomorrowCrash and Ray. Current projects include The Covenant for Screen Gems, The Holiday for Columbia and No Country for Old Men (Miramax).

Luma Pictures is located at 248 Westminster Ave., Venice, CA. For more information, call (310) 888.8738 or visit


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