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PMcD and Black Logic Make Film Fun for Disney's Zoog

A main title animation disguised as a ride film (July 30, 2001)
A group of remarkably athletic children bounce ecstatically through space in a :30 show open for "Disney Zoog Movie," the made for TV movies aimed at the "tween" audience ages 9-14. From the start, a whole lot of fun is going on in the Zoog Movie open due to spectacular acrobatics, vibrant graphics and invigorating special effects created by Black Logic for PMcD Design (both NYC) and client the Disney Channel.

As several happily bouncing kids descend from a dusky, dark-blue sky, the perspective widens to reveal a neon green trampoline that spells out "Zoog." As the children continue to flip, twist and contort in mid-air, a filmstrip constructed from a magical "liquid diffraction grating" material takes the viewer on a roller coaster ride through the ether.

"Zoog is a main title animation disguised as a ride film," says John Mabey, head of CGI at Black Logic. "There were no 'invisible' effects in this project. It's an engaging, high-energy invitation to become part of the experience."

"Black Logic has enjoyed a long-standing collaborative relationship with Patrick McDonough and his firm PMcD Design, and Zoog allowed us to pull out all the creative stops," says Black Logic executive producer Karen Stewart.

As part of a vivid re-design of the Disney Channel Movie show open and bumper package, the Zoog Movie open precedes originally produced movies. "The piece breaks down into three parts," says Mabey. "The first is a vast interior, nighttime scene, followed closely by a stylized interpretation of actual film as a theme park environment. When the little girl splashes into the film itself, it sets up a third section. The camera flies through one of the "O's" in Zoog and sets up the title, in which the "O's" become the projector through which the film runs."

"Since it was a Disney project we knew we could have a lot of fun creating the 3-D environments, but we also knew that we had to allow the energy of 'Zoog Kids' to drive the animation," said Scott Petill, Black Logic CG supervisor.

"To help us during the design phase, and to determine the timings of the aerial stunts of the real kids, we did extensive pre-visualization with simple 3-D stand-in models of kids for each scene. This proved to be exceptionally useful in determining which kids performed which maneuver and how their stunts could be combined in each shot."

"Patrick was interested in a hyper-real look so we did research on cloud formations and low altitude aerial photography. We came up with a clean, bright look inspired by the high desert where the sky is intensely blue, the specular highlights on smooth objects are brilliant, and everything looks crisp," said Sebastian Bilbao, CG Technical Director on the splash shot.

The open moves briskly, but even with its remarkably fast pace, one shot stands out. While the youngsters hover above and around the film, one girl splashes into a single frame; instantaneously her smiling face appears in and throughout the rolling film, driving home the message that the upcoming Zoog movie will definitely draw one in.

"The splash sequence was one of the most challenging shots. Fluid dynamics are very tricky to simulate and because the look was photo realistic slow-mo, we developed a technique that would allow adjustments and customizations to the behavior of the particle system based on how Patrick wanted the shot to play," added Mabey "It's the money shot because it expresses the moment where the Zoog kids, like the audience, dive into the experience."

Using a primary toolset of Maya, Renderman, After Effects and Inferno, this shot was the key challenge of the Zoog project, according to Mabey. "That shot of the girl was an interesting challenge. We worked with director of photography Kevin Jones as he filmed the kids on trampolines using an over-cranked camera. The blue screen elements were speed shifted accordingly in post. The shot was designed to produce an eye-catching splash when she penetrates the film frame, as her image is instantaneously and sequentially animated across the spiraling film. It's one of those shots that gets more interesting once you've watched it a dozen times, because there's so much going on."

The Disney Zoog project was turned around in under eight weeks, including an intense pre-production period. "We pre-visualized all the scenes with models substituting for talent," says Mabey. "We spent 12 days prior to the shoot trying to ensure that these athletic kids would be able to maintain sufficient air time for the shots to work. We also did some research on rollercoaster design and constructed an interesting ride sequence. Our choreography was really inspired by making the ride effect work."

About Black Logic
Black Logic
is a comprehensive, creative collaboration company offering full-service visual effects, graphic design, high-end compositing, 2D and 3D animation, and complete live-action production. Founded in 1992 and located at 305 East 46 St., in New York City, Black Logic also offers state-of-the-art film-to-tape transfers together with its productions. Black Logic is represented by Ivan Molomut and Alfie Schloss.


Disney "zoog"

Disney Channel
Andréa Taylor - sr. vice prsident of on air promotion
Roberta Solomon - executive assistant

Production/Design Company - pmcd design
Patrick McDonough - creative director
Dana Bonomo - executive producer
Kevin Jones - director cameraman
Michelle Lockett - producer

3-D/visual effects company - Black Logic
Karen Stewart - executive producer
Dan Connors - visual effects producer
John Mabey - cg production head
Patrick Ferguson - senior visual effects artist
Sebastian Bilbao - technical director
Scott Petill - cg supervisor
Julio Soto - cg artist
Andrew Dayton - cg artist
Glenn Harper - cg artist

Software Tools
- Real Flow
- Next Limit Maya
- W/A Renderman
- Pixar Shake
- Nothing Real After Effects
- Adobe Inferno
- Discreet

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Related Keywords:Black Logic, PMcD, Disney


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