2004년 07월 03일
In 1872, author Jules Verne's eccentric inventor Phileas Fogg -- on a bet -- conjured up the secret of flight and traveled around the world in 80 days. But he had nothing on the visual effects wizards who, in 2004, helped actors Steve Coogan (Fogg), Jackie Chan (sidekick Passepartout) and Cecile de France (Monique) cross the Atlantic in a digital paddle steamer and jury-rigged flying machine -- without setting foot in either.
The first Around the World in 80 Days film was made in 1914 and since then, the book has been revisited through at least four more features, a mini-series, an animated film and numerous knock-offs including The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze (1963).
For the new Buena Vista version, visual effects supervisor Derek Spears masterminded 400 shots, 80 of which were created at Rhythm & Hues. Among the company's effects were the sail-powered paddle steamer boat and a pedal-powered flying machine that transport Fogg and crew on the final leg of their journey.
Rhythm & Hues modelers built the digital boat in Maya, referencing photographs of a practical half-boat used on location in Thailand. To age it, they relied on displacement maps. Animation was accomplished with the studio's proprietary VooDoo software, lighting with Side Effects Software's vMantra and rendering with the in-house Ren software.
The tricky part of the illusion was putting the boat in water. In Thailand, the crew shot background plates of a Thai tug chugging through the ocean to simulate the paddle boat's journey across the Atlantic. The tug's movement was later applied to the CG boat. "The plate gave us a wake and a good position for where the boat was supposed to be in the water," Spears said. The waterline was assembled from CG water created in Side Effects Software's Houdini using Martian Tools' Hydrous. "Integrating the boat into the water and adding the waterline took endless hours of slaving on an Inferno. It was a lot of tedious hand work."
The boat not only sailed through the water, it paddled, so the effects crew needed to move CG water through the paddlewheel. "We used a particle system, but particles look like dots," said Spears. "The tricky part of water is getting sheeting action. Particles try to stay local to one another, so it was hard to get them to not look like rain. We used smoothing techniques to stick the particles together so they'd look like streams of water coming off the wheel." Rendering techniques in vMantra helped turn some of the particles into a foamy spray as the wheel churned through the water.
To complete the illusion, Rhythm & Hues populated the boat with digital characters that walked, climbed ladders, and pulled on ropes, using animation cycles created from motion capture data altered by animators. Variations among the people on deck were created with texture maps; the actors were simulated using still photos taken on set. All the people were parented to the boat so as it rocked and rolled -- to match the movement of the tugboat tracked from the plate -- the digital people stayed firmly aboard.
With digital people, digital water streaming through the paddle wheel, digital sails with a bit of cloth simulation on them, and the boat moving through water that was, in part, digital, rendering with global illumination became impossible. "We tried to render the whole thing together, but it was too expensive," said Spears. "Instead, we had rings of lights follow the CG actors around. If they walked over a white part of the deck, white light would reflect on them. We also used ambient diffusion to get soft shadows, and ray tracing for the wet areas."
When Fogg, Monique, and Passepartout realize that they are not going to make it across the Atlantic in the boat in time to win the bet, they use pieces of the boat to build a pedal-powered flying machine. Fogg drives, Monique sits behind him, and Passepartout pedals. "Most of the flying machine shots were completely synthetic," said Spears, "although some have live-action backgrounds."
Working from Lidar laser scans of the practical flying machine, Rhythm & Hues built a digital equivalent and then staffed it with digital doubles of the actors. Because in one shot the characters are almost full frame, their faces were rendered with subsurface scattering techniques to add transparency to the flesh, and animated by hand using reference photos shot on set. The background sky was a matte painting enhanced with an occasional CG cloud formed by in-house volumetric tools. The water was practical unless camera moves made that impractical -- in which case the crew simulated water, again using Houdini and Hydrous.
Near the finish line at the Royal Academy of Science square in England, the CG plane flies into a practical set actually filmed in Berlin's Gendarmenmarkt. Waiting to cheer the intrepid travelers' homecoming after their remarkable journey are thousands of people moving, as on the boat, according to animation cycles from motion capture data. In these shots, the direction that the digital people moved was controlled by crowd simulation software, Softimage|Behavior. "The people are reasonably small, but they cover the screen," said Spears. "There are thousands of them running into the square from edge to edge."
Some of the shots in the sequence were greenscreen composites of the practical flying machine filmed on stage. "We used background plates shot in London that we had to change to match the period," Spears said. "We tracked in 2D paintings of buildings from other plates. London looks period from the ground, but when you look sideways, you see the modern buildings because they tend to be taller."
Re-creating Jules Verne's Victorian-age scientific fantasy on film for the illusion-savvy moviegoers of 2004 required tools and techniques that a Victorian scientist could hardly imagine.
from the Cinefex
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