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Ring Of Fire Creates Epic VFX For Sky Captain

Completed 106 shots between four sequences for Sky Captain (September 23, 2004)

The artists at leading digital effects studio Ring of Fire recently completed intensive visual effects work on the upcoming film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, directed by Kerry Conran. Released in theaters on September 17th and featuring Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, the film is an action adventure that pits an intrepid pilot against a legion of giant robots attacking New York City, as well as Dr. Totenkopf, the evil mastermind behind a plot to destroy the earth.

Ring of Fire, one of 10 effects houses brought in on the project, completed 106 shots between four sequences for Sky Captain. The studio collaborated with another effects company, Engine Room, on the sequences Lift Off, Totenkopf's Lair, Totenkopf's Office and Dex Returns, which were all part of the villains lair called the Rocket Cavern. The talented team was responsible for developing the look of the cavern and all of the creatures, robots, vehicles, buildings and structures within it. This included a giant rocket that was, for the films purpose, twice the size of the Empire State Building.

?Our biggest challenge was envisioning the sheer enormity and complexity of the rocket cavern, explains Greg Anderson, Ring of Fire VFX Supervisor/Head of CG. ?Kerry [Conran] continually stressed the importance of achieving an enormous scale with the environment. We were faced with juxtaposing human-sized objects against a massive rocket and a cavern that should appear to be 1/2 mile in diameter all the while maintaining the detail inherent in the original designs.

To achieve the right look and dimension, the Ring of Fire team simultaneously worked at a micro scale for texture and geometry detail such as creating individual rivets and bolts on a hovercraft, and at a macro scale, building rock faces that spanned hundreds of feet. Adds Ring of Fire Senior VFX Producer Casey Conroy, ?We were able to build a believable environment that worked not only in the most intimate of close-ups between the two main characters, Sky Captain and Polly, but also in the widest of vistas to establish the magnitude of this rocket cavern.

Ring of Fire met early on in the process with Director Kerry Conran and his team to flesh out ideas and ensure everyone was on the same page in terms of the aesthetic look of the scenes. Over the course of six months, Ring of Fire had more than 45 artists involved on the project.

?One complex element of Sky Captain was that an environment can be anything in CG, remarks Greg Anderson. ?Although the entire movie had been prevized by Kerry and his team, many of the details changed and evolved over time. It was refreshing to see that this kind of film could be done -- to be able to create a stylized yet photoreal environment -- and to work with Kerry on the finest level of detail.

To accomplish the eye-catching visual effects, Ring of Fire utilized Alias Maya 5.0 as its primary 3D software package. The majority of the texture painting was done in Adobe Photoshop and compositing was handled with Adobe After Effects and Apple Shake.

?It was such an amazing experience to be part of Kerry Conrans vision and imagination, concludes Casey Conroy. ?This is such an innovative project -- being the first film ever to be produced entirely from bluescreen composites and CG animation. Sky Captain has really brought a brand new production technique to the forefront of the industry.

Paramount Pictures, Aurelio De Laurentiis and Jon Avnet present a Brooklyn Films II /Riff Raff-Blue Flower/Filmauro Production of A Kerry Conran Film, "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow." Starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Gambon, Bai Ling, Omid Djalili and Angelina Jolie, the film is written and directed by Kerry Conran, produced by Jon Avnet, Marsha Oglesby, Sadie Frost and Jude Law. Executive producers are Aurelio De Laurentiis, Raffaella De Laurentiis and Bill Haber. Eric Adkins is the director of photography. Production designer is Kevin Conran and Sabrina Plisco, A.C.E., is the editor. Scott E. Anderson is the senior visual effects supervisor. Costumes for Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law designed by Stella McCartney. Darin Hollings is the visual effects supervisor. The music is by Edward Shearmur, and Hester Hargett and Brooke Breton serve as co-producers. Casting is by Rick Pagano.

Paramount Pictures is part of the entertainment operations of Viacom, Inc., one of the world's largest entertainment and media companies and a leader in production, promotion and distribution of entertainment, news, sports and music.

Filmauro is an Italian company that has been active since 1975 producing, financing and distributing movies. Aurelio De Laurentiis is the owner and chief executive. Brooklyn Films is the production company of Jon Avnet who has directed and/or produced over 50 movies for cinema and television over the last 25 years.

The film has been rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for sequences of stylized sci-fi violence and brief mild language.

Ring of Fire Studios/Engine Room Credits

VFX Supervisor: Greg Anderson
Executive Producer: Dan Schmit
Head of Production of Engine Room: Dan Schmit
Executive Producer of Ring of Fire: John Myers
Visual Effects Consultant of Ring of Fire: Jerry Spivack
Senior VFX Producer: Casey Conroy
Additional Visual Effects Consultant: Chris Scollard
Digital Producer: Audrea Topps-Harjo
Digital Production Manager: Bill Murphy
3D Supervisor: Andrew Honacker
2D Supervisor: Kevin ONeill
Lead Lighting TD: Bryan Thombs
Senior Lighting TD: Robert Bourgeault
Lead Lighting Artist: Dann Tarmy
Digital Artists: Christian Argueta, Neil Atkins, Suzanne Berger, Tom Bradley, Tim Brandt,
Allan Cabal, Sean Capone, Steven Cummings, John Ellis, Christina Garranchan, Jerry Hall,
Eric Heavens, Marcel Hemingway, Derrick Huckvale, Evan James, Bryan Johnson, Tim Landry, Tracy Lee, Al Magliochetti, Vincent Nuņez, Jon Parker, Francis Puthanangadi, John Roden, David Summers, Dave Witters, Steve Wilson, Fabio Zapata, Chris Holmes, Doug Cram,
Bryan Deemer, Alex Hegedus, Lawrence Huang, Marc Leidy, Brian Sorbo, John Tissavary,
Eric Dehaven and Mari King
Matte Painter: Ron Crabb
Systems Engineer: Jason Lopes
Systems Administrator: Jeffrey Yana
Engineer: Doug Randell
Operations Manager: Andy Gorzalski
I/O: Torrey Alvarez
VFX Editorial: Barrett Sanders
3D Tracking: David Sudd
Production Assistants: Charles Parrish and Kathryn Elmore

Ring of Fire is located at 8300 Melrose Avenue 2nd Floor,
West Hollywood, CA 90069. Telephone: 323.966.5410. Fax: 323.966.5419. For more information visit


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Related Keywords:Ring Of Fire, VFX, Sky Captain, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Kerry Conran, Engine Room, Greg Anderson, Casey Conroy, Greg Anderson, Alias, Maya, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, Apple Shake, Paramount Pictures, Viacom, Filmauro, Dan Schmit,


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