|There are dragons in the wilds of Utah. And there is one visual effects production studio that's responsible for their presence: BluFire Studios in Orem, Utah. For the past few years these mythological fire-breathing beasts have filled the cinematic skies thanks to the efforts of a small band of dedicated VFX artists at BluFire using MAXON's CINEMA 4D.
BluFire's intentionally created dragons that looked more like actual creatures than something from horror movies or fairy tales.
||'Age of the Dragons,' BluFire's latest effort, is a re-imagining of Herman Melville's classic novel 'Moby Dick.' Starring Danny Glover from 'Lethal Weapon,' and Vinnie Jones from 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,' the story is set in a mythical, medieval realm.
Captain Ahab's (Glover) obsession to seek revenge on the great 'White Dragon,' for slaughtering his family and leaving his body scarred and mauled, drives him and his crew deep into a dark and dangerous journey. |
"We wanted the dragon to feel more like an actual creature that you find out there somewhere in the woods, rather than the kind of mystical dragons that are typified in these kind of fantasy films," says Matt Hoffman, BluFire's VFX supervisor.
Relying on a combination of nature and Hollywood for inspiration, the BluFire creative crew drew on real-world influences like lizards, bats, frogs and dinosaurs when creating dragons for the film. Once the look of the dragons was set, BluFire established a system for bringing the dragons to life.
To get this shot BluFire matched a CG dragon to a real-life flamethrower.
The model for the dragon?s cave was just a simple form with 140 polygons.
|First, they used an animatic to get a clear idea on the timing of the film. Next they developed level 1 animation, which showed the blocking and movements of the dragons. |
Once the producers gave the thumbs up to this phase, the visual artists moved on to level 2 animation, which included more details, such as breathing and blinking. And level 3 consisted of rendering and compositing.
|CINEMA 4D played a key role in helping the BluFire team, who worked on the film for a year, create realistic creatures. Animated in Maya, one of the dragons was about 15,000 polygons, Hoffman explains, adding that the render time in C4D subdivided each polygon, creating four to five million polygons. |
This sub-poly displacement allowed a great amount of detail to be added to the dragons. For example, using C4D artists made sure light would bleed through the dragons' wings and "make them look like they've got blood running through their veins," says Hoffman.
Matching perspective on this shot was challenging, says Matt Hoffman, BluFire's VFX supervisor. "It was a big dolly shot, so we had to match move it to make sure that the virtual camera was moving the exact same way as the real camera," he said.
To add fine detail to this shot, BluFire artists used C4D's sub-poly displacement.