Journey 2 Gets More Immersive in 3-D
In terms of breakthroughs, Shermis first points to Scanline's water work, getting better white water foam than ever before. He had worked with them as far back as Poseidon. "I asked Stephan Trojansky to improve his code so that when we did the big splashes of white water against the rocks as the island is breaking apart, that the droplets wouldn't fall as big, heavy droplets, but they would atomize and spray away. But in addition to extra special white water they created, Scanline also came up with interesting ways of lighting their internal volumes of water, which they had never done before. It has more luminosity that makes it all the more realistic-looking. And for the hurricane they spent six months coming up with custom code that creates all the swirling and atmospherics and rain."
For Pixomondo, which created the sequences in which the mysterious island collapses into the ocean as the characters race to find Captain Nemo's submerged Nautilus submarine, one of the biggest challenges was the electric eel. Shermis says the idea of visualizing the eel was difficult enough, but then pulling it off was just as hard. Pixomondo's VFX supervisor Bryan Hirota says they designed a semi-bioluminescent, giant moray eel crossed with a dinosaur. "We ended up concocting a tesla coil meets Jacob's Ladder effect that conveys what is needed but isn't completely outrageous."
Shermis agrees: "The weight and fluidity of the predatory creature make it really feel like it is on the prowl and the characters are in imminent danger."
While Method only did 50 shots, VFX supervisor Mark Breakspear says it was varied and challenging work. "The big challenges were creating spaces that were 'amazing never seen before,' but also look believable, and grounded in reality," he suggests. "And adding in all the nuances that make something look real. It was a real study of nature and how far you could amp things up to make a fantasy location, but one that felt that it might just be somewhere on Earth we haven’t found yet."
But Shermis was initially apprehensive about the bee chase, which he says Rising Sun pulled off very convincingly in the end. "It could be a fun and cool thing or the most ridiculous thing you ever saw. But The Third Floor, which did our previs (all in 3-D), worked on it for several months, and I needed to make sure that what we were designing was going to maintain the speed and excitement and movement so that it looked right. But along with everything else, the guys at Rising Sun created a digital jungle that matched and extended our real jungle. And then just to make sure that the actors looked like they were moving properly, and to get the bees to have the right weight, wind velocity on their fur and all that other fun stuff."