Cultivating Gnomeo & Juliet
Iain McLuckie, the Starz modeling supervisor, says they broke up the sets for the garden and town into more manageable pieces (about half a dozen) since the characters were so tiny and the sets so large. "For the garden, they captured video footage of trees and leaves blowing and plugged that into our 2D lights and interactively placed these lights, keeping our garden alive and creating caustic effects for water," he adds.
Bernasconi says Asbury "was really adamant about not letting the bushes look too busy. That was tricky because nature has an organic distribution of the leaf direction and when it's too chaotic it ends up that your key light, for example, doesn't fall off in the correct way. So you have this undefined shape that takes your eye away from the action. So, one of the shader writers, Daniel Lee, created a plug-in for Maya using spherical harmonics to get a smoother surface for the bush."
Stereo, meanwhile, was basically an afterthought in Toronto, according to Eric Deren, the stereographer. But he relished finding natural 3-D moments rather than having to design them. "Featherstone is made to be a 3-D moment anytime he talks near the camera because of all his pointy parts. In fact, we had to rein him in quite a bit to support the shots nearby and lead the viewer's eye in and out of these shots. Otherwise, he was going to jar the viewer's eyes."
And there should be nothing jarring about Gnomeo & Juliet.
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.