John Carter: The Original Space Adventure
Helium (also designed by Church) proved very time consuming and render heavy to get full 3D renders; due to the sheer volume of assets required, Cinesite developed a proprietary hierarchical caching system, allowing for grouping and duplication of individual models within larger structures. The difficult part was accessing each different stage of this hierarchy, which was made possible by various filtering options. Each asset also had its own lighting and shading file, which was easily adjustable even from the top node of the hierarchy. Cinesite also developed level of detail files for modeling and texturing which could be manually adjusted or calculated automatically through a shot camera. The fully CG Helium environment was a huge challenge as this would be the look of the Helium city that would be reused in a number of other sequences. Both Helium Major and Helium Minor required high-res textures for parts of the city that they would push in on.
In the end, Cinesite achieved for Helium's Palace of Light what Stanton termed "the jewel of the city."
"Andrew was so ready for the CG process that he was ready to take on John Carter," Chiang concludes. "He knew the fundamentals and his expertise was invaluable."
Bill Desowitz is former senior editor of AWN and editor of VFXWorld. His blog is Immersed in Movies (www.billdesowitz.com), he's a regular contributor to Thompson on Hollywood at Indiewire and he's the author of the upcoming James Bond Unmasked (Spies), which chronicles the 50-year evolution of the iconic superspy from Connery to Craig.