SIGGRAPH 2010: Tron Legacy and More
For me, the symbiotic relationship between research and production is still the mainstay of SIGGRAPH after all these years. And this year Terrence Masson and his colleagues did a terrific job in achieving a nice middle-ground, because, let's face it: the recession is still taking its painful toll and there's a lot of scrambling to figure out how to make the work better, cheaper and faster.
In fact, the Tron Legacy panel was the perfect blend of both, with director Joseph Kosinski, producer Jeffrey Silver and Digital Domain's Eric Barba (visual effects supervisor) and Steve Preeg (animation supervisor) discussing the cutting edge nature of this sequel to the influential computer graphics trailblazer from Disney (opening Dec. 17).
Besides being wowed with the same eight minutes of 3-D footage screened at Comic-Con, the attendees were treated to a preview of how they captured Jeff Bridges on set as his younger Clu 2.0 (he wore a helmet with four cameras), as well as the challenges of shooting in stereoscopic 3-D (the new Sony F35 with Master Prime lenses, which open up to 1.3 for less light but shallower depth of field).
Preeg explained that the performance capture process was the reverse of the Oscar-winning Benjamin Button's: "… we had to utilize these mounted cameras and figure out what to do with that data, which meant writing a lot of software internally, and I think one of the big things that has helped us on this show is that our animation team is actually quite small. One of the [other] things that we wanted to do was put this volume process in the hands of the animator so they could run the iterations of the solver and choose parameters for the solve and put it all into a nice interface for them. I think that was a big change for us and they've been very responsive to that process."