5D | FLUX: A New Paradigm for World Building
Among the highlights of the "Imagining and Developing the World" discussion was the revelation concerning the mythology of Superman's iconic S in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel by costume designer Michael Wilkinson. He explained that since they created a "neo-medieval" back story for Krypton (which included the creation of a new language), that it made sense to utilize the suit design as part of the mythology. "Everyone on Krypton wears this suit," he suggested. Using ZBrush and rapid prototyping, Wilkinson came up the blue/gray color and chainmail look. "It has function and purpose and logic to this fantastical world," he added.
Production designer Rick Carter (Avatar, War Horse, Lincoln) said he wished that world building would go away as a territorial battle between production departments and offered a higher philosophical discussion about world and story melding together as cause and effect. Carter spoke about the importance of metaphors in storytelling -- that's what he responds to-- and espoused Jung in describing Avatar as "The Wizard of Oz meets Apocalypse Now" or "EKG meets MRI."
During the "Prototyping the World and the Narrative" discussion, CG cinematographer Jericca Cleland (Arthur Christmas), who has her own Twenty One studio, emphasized the close collaboration with the other crafts to building a cohesive world and unified story, no matter the budget or scale.
Indeed, production designer Patrick Henenberger explained that How to Train Your Dragon took advantage of prototyping as well as more traditional artwork to build the medieval Scottish world while empowering the artists. Likewise, virtual art director Jeff Wisniewski discussed the innovative use of the Simulcam (developed for Avatar) and a robust pipeline so that director Shawn Levy could direct the virtual characters in a real world setting when they shot the boxing matches in Detroit.
Chris deFaria, who oversees development of VFX and animation at Warner Bros., revealed during the "Capturing and Finishing the Story World" discussion that Alfonso Cuaron is turning production on its head with Gravity (Nov. 21), the marooned in space adventure starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. Framestore is the lead VFX company and the sci-fi movie is being post-converted in 3-D.
"Instead of trying to create real people and what they're doing, let's turn it around and create almost an entirely animated film and then backwards engineer the people into that film," he said. "As a matter of fact, let's not even engineer the people into the film, let's engineer their faces. So you've got these little faces inside these little helmets. But there was a big hiccup that we came to I didn't realize until later, which was that we began building it as an animated film and Alfonso had an idea that he wanted the shots to be incredibly long, and I said, 'How long?' And he said he wanted the first shot to be really long. And I said, 'You mean, 40 seconds?' 'No, 17 minutes.' So it ends up the film only has 156 shots in the entire two-hour movie, many of them six, eight, 10 minutes long.