"The framework is used to construct and simulate the anatomical components of our digital creatures and characters," said Jacobs, a supervisor for creature special-effects.
With a similar goal in mind, a group at Centropolis FX including awardees J.P. Lewis, Nickson Fong and Matt Cordner, created the pose space deformation, or "PSD," technique.
"PSD is an artist-friendly way to fix basic skinning problems with animation," said Cordner, an FX artist at Blizzard Entertainment. "It is an integral component of Weta's tissue framework."
PSD helps an artist pose a computer-generated arm into a specific position, such as an arm flexed making a muscle. The artist can fix the skin's surface and save the settings for the skin's surface for that specific poise. After the skin is fixed on all the poses in a scene, PSD will incorporate all of that information so that as the arm moves from flexed to relaxed, to help make the skin look more realistic.
Lighting-Scene to City
In the 2001 animated film, "Shrek," creating a rose-colored sunset was part art and part science for the team who worked at PDI/Dreamworks including Daniel Wexler, Lawrence Kesteloot and Drew Olbrich.
"We made a tool for artists to help them achieve new levels of creativity," said Wexler, now a chief executive officer at The11ers. "Lighters (tell a story with light and since a lighter's time is more valuable than a computer's time, we developed the Light system."
The Light system combines lighting and rendering into one tool. Lighting is when the artist adds light to the scene, such as an illuminated desk lamp. Rendering generates the entire scene by forming an image that combines the lamp's light, the wood grain on the desk and the color of the wall. This allows the lighter to see what the light looks like in the scene.
"Instead of having to wait hours between making a change to a scene and being able to view it, the artist is able to see changes in lighting in real time," said Wexler.
Focusing on the lights in one room is one thing, but trying to light up five blocks of the New York City skyline is another. For Steve LaVietes, Brian Hall and Jeremy Selan at Sony Pictures Imageworks, creating Katana, a computer graphics scene management and lighting software, was a way to overcome the common problem of using up all of the computer's memory to generate large, complicated scenes.
"Katana is specialized for large-scale film production where there is lots of data or lots of team members involved," said LaVietes, a pipeline architect. He develops the software process that moves data between departments for final movie frame delivery. "The way Katana works, if I make a change to a scene, I only save that change and you would see a flowchart of all the changes to this scene."
For example, an artist can produce a set of instructions for how the light will look streaming from an apartment window at night. Then, if the artist decides to make that one window and entire apartment building the length of an entire city block, Katana can apply the same light instructions over a much larger environment.
Getting the lighting just right, making the characters appear life like and creating visual effects that take audiences breath away is the goal of these Oscar award-wining screen scientists and ingenious engineers. When they do their job well, the audience doesn't even notice their work.
This story was originally published by Inside Science News Service.