Green Lantern Will Power
Beyond the design of the energy, there was the technical consideration of how to track the suit on a practical head. "We did something similar to the FACS system for the neck because there's no place to hide the blend line," Berney continues. "The digital suit had to deform and the muscles had to move exactly like Ryan's. To accomplish that, we put dots on the neck and those were tracked and then we did a series of deformations and riggings based on a Mova session for the neck. With that and a bit of hand work, we were able to mimic the neck movements of Ryan and apply that to our digital suit."
Meanwhile, the suit's two-layered system allows the light to transmit through it, so the energy itself can perform as a light source. This, along with everything else, was accomplished through the Arnold renderer, which has been developed as a ray tracer. You can move light and see the results in seconds. It provides artists more creative freedom to make it look cool rather than managing data, calculating shadow maps or doing pre-passes to figure out various other things.
As for Oa, there's a wakeup room comprised of opalescent stone (like an organic honeycomb); lots of canyons and towers; a small mountain of buildings with a tunnel running through the inside leading to the core planet. The mountains in the distance were matte paintings, but everything else was modeled and textured and lit, even the sky made of strange clouds comprised of prismatic light. This also benefited from Arnold as well as Houdini.
Of the various creatures (overseen by David Schaub, animation supervisor at Imageworks), Parallax was the most ambitious. He's made of millions of souls from destroyed planets. He's not a cloud particle or an avalanche: he's amorphous and moves like a predator. It took nearly a year to put together (Neville Page was the creature designer), particularly all the connective tissue but also the cobweb-like, diaphanous cloth that covers the building block elements, so to speak. Within it, a big monster head emerges, which transforms into a more hideous-looking face. "So there was a tricky rigging challenge of going from one head to another, and it was a matter of keeping the topologies the same even though they look different," Berney suggests.
For Imageworks, Green Lantern brought character and environmental work beyond what's previously been achieved at the studio. "Our effects team grew to 45-50 just doing simulations and effects," Berney adds. "We've already discussed how Arnold has progressed. And we've been evolving our animation tools and rigging pipeline: our deformations and coming up with what we call a 'unity mesh.' That allowed us to fairly easily go from one type of character to another without a full rebuild. It's a long time accumulation of technologies coming to the head at just the right time."
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.