Journey 2 Gets More Immersive in 3-D
VFX supervisor Boyd Shermis found the notion of shooting Journey 2: The Mysterious Island in 3-D very enticing along with the prospect of fully embracing creature animation for a Jules Verne-inspired adventure.
"Not only was this my first foray into native stereo 3-D photography [using the Pace rig], which was thoroughly embraced and exploited by the entire design of the film, but also a first for me in the area of creature animation," Shermis explains. "I've done bits and pieces of creature work, and certainly lots of full screen human action animation and digital extras, etc. But for me, this was a new animation directing challenge spanning a dozen different types of creatures. There were plenty of digital doubles, too, using cutting edge scanning and texturing techniques from Paul Debevec's USC Light Stage 6. Plus, of course, all the usual massive underwater and above water virtual environments and simulations, including a hurricane, an exploding volcano and a sinking island. Throw in three exciting chase sequences taking place in real (Hawaii) and virtual environments, and you've got a pretty interesting roller coaster of in-your-face 3-D that is a beautiful and fun ride."
Although there are 430 VFX shots, it seems like three times as much. Indeed, Shermis suggests that working natively in 3-D adds 2.5 times the complexity when you consider that you have to reconcile both the left and right eye tracks and make sure they work together.
The work was divided primarily between Pixomondo, which concentrated on the underwater world during the collapse of the island and the daring escape of Captain Nemo's legendary Nautilus sub (including all the sea creatures); Scanline, which upped its vaunted water simulation and added volcanic work as well; Method Studios in Vancouver, which handled the above ground environments for the mysterious island as well as the City of Atlantis, the Centipede and the Butterflies; MPC Vancouver, which did the lizard chase; Rising Sun Pictures, which tackled the bee chase and a spider; and Trixter, which handled the elephants. Overall, the array of giant creatures includes a centipede, a bird, ants, fireflies, bees, elephants, lizards, butterflies, an electric eel and schools of fish along with beautiful jelly fish.
Meanwhile, digital scanning reached new heights on Journey 2. "We worked with Paul's Light Stage 6 (available commercially for the first time and part of USC's ICT Lab) in conjunction with the Light Stage LLC, which is the commercialized spin-off of the original Light Stage, which captures just the heads," Shermis continues. "So what we ended up doing was capturing the heads independently at very high-resolution and then put the characters into the Light Stage 6, and one of the interesting things that was new technology was that we also had the Icon Studios laser scanner set up in the Light Stage itself so that you could scan the performers and capture all the lighting imagery in perfect registration. It was quite an achievement getting these three companies (USC's ICT Lab, Light Stage LLC and Icon Studios) working together with their pipelines. They got one batch of data per character and then distributed it."