CGSociety :: Production Focus
4 April 2012, by Paul Hellard
Filled with smoke, fire, gods and dust, Warner Bros.’ Wrath of the Titans is the sequel to Clash of the Titans, the movie that brought actor Sam Worthington back from Pandora and into this fantastic battle tale.
Method Studios is one of several outfits that worked on the VFX for the many and varied creatures of Wrath of the Titans. The bulk of the work was done by the crew at MPC and Framestore. Other setups were by nVizage, Hybride and Senate. The assignment of some effects were shared by studios in some instances and it is fair to mention the two-headed flame-spitting panther called a Chimera was created by MPC, and the battalion of double bodied spinning fighters in the final scenes called the Makhai, as well as the Cyclops family were the work of the team at MPC and Framestore. Hats off to ALL the artists involved.
The main sequence for Method Studios Los Angeles involved creating the awakening of the monstrous Kronos, father of Zeus. This involved 114 shots featuring a massive mountain being, in an entirely CG environment. The action takes place in a huge collapsing chamber, with Perseus and Andromeda freeing Zeus as Kronos awakes. The monster is brought to life with glowing lava and causes the cataclysmic destruction of the Underworld. Digital doubles of leading actors were created and composited into scenes along with fire, smoke, explosions and flowing lava. NUKE was kept busy compositing the immense collections together through the elements Shotgun was used to wrangle the many thousands of scenes, cards of textures, character details and render queues.
With an exceptional history behind him working on The Tree of Life, SpeedRacer, Dark Knight
and Matrix Reloaded
, VFX Supervisor for Method Studios, Olivier Dumont worked on Wrath of the Titans
, not for the first time, under the supervision of Nick Davis and the direction from Battle: LA
’s Jonathan Liebesman. Starting at BUF in France in 1997, Dumont cut his teeth on a lot of TVCs, music videos and French cinema, before moving to California. He crossed to Method after working at BUF LA as well for some time.
“Method worked on everything that occurred in the Underworld’,” explains Dumont. “During a battle on the surface, a crack opens up and the viewer falls way down into the bowels of the Earth to meet with Zeus.” 110 artists at Method Studios Los Angeles and London shared a lot of this work with MPC in London. Also tackled were the set extensions, meeting and creating Kronos in the Kronos chamber where he is attached to the mountain. The London team was also involved during pre-production and created concept images for the production’s art department.
In the sequence where the audience is taken for the first time, down into the Earth to meet Zeus, the fall is a true rollercoaster ride. This is a full stereo CG environment, staring down into the darkness. The cave is captured in several separate scans, and modeled in ZBrush with cooked brushes from models that already existed from the LIDAR. “This was built from an approved previz that showed us the trajectory of the camera, the speed of travel and where lights might be placed. We then hand managed the voyage with fire and smoke in the rock walls, and falling rocks at the beginning, right through to the end,” says Dumont. “At the first brief, it was about half the length it ended up as, so it was a long process. In theory, it was supposed to be the core of the Earth, so it was supposed to take some time.”
This text will be replaced
The process of lighting such a cavernous trip was difficult as well. It could not be too bright as well as not too dark. “At the start of the fall, we gave some license to the fact that your eyes have to grow accustomed to the dark, and at first you cannot see anything,” he explains. As the camera moves down, Method added little sparks of dusty light, flames and sparks from rocks falling close by. This was art directed very strongly. The view down of course, showed that there was always some light at the end of the tunnel, getting slowly brighter. “We scanned all the sets, because it helps for tracking for instance,” says Dumont. “Having a library of rock scans is very useful for set extensions, which we used extensively. Once we were happy with the plate layout, we used this content of this immense library of rock scans.”