Invictus: A Virtual World Game
"One of the things we've decided about motion capture is that it's very important who you're casting in that role and not to imagine that you really want to be manipulating some of the real groundwork that you capture there, because you want that person to come through. And people are very adept at picking out falseness in humans.
"So we really cross-checked that our digital people matched the motion capture actors that we cast and each character would go through a battery of tests that would ensure that all of the bone segments in our skeleton were laid out and positioned to the same length and joint locations as the corresponding actor. And I think that was an extra step that the motion capture house, House of Moves, provided some new excitement in duplicating people. In the end, we had upwards of 20 physiques that came from these different actors. In past films, we focused on using less people but in a larger variety of ways. But not having to interpolate your animation from, say, a tall, skinny motion capture actor, repurposing it on other body types that don't move and react the same way, was a great benefit. You get different idiosyncrasies, and that was a key.
The system that CIS used between Houdini and Massive was really unique and offered a lot of flexibilities, even late in production. "There's been a pipeline rethinking recently. The whole process is based on Houdini and Massive talking to each other and taking advantage of their own strengths. Massive is an excellent motion choreographer. And that's where all of our motion clicks and libraries were created and all of our actions were cached out. But, then, if you really want to have flexibility late in the production and be able to do drastically different animations and layouts of people, Houdini offers that kind of procedural strength. And we wrote a lot of custom portions of our pipeline that got the most out of those two softwares and allowed them to talk together. And all of the other departments started to take advantage of that plug-in to Massive and Houdini. The lighters were now able to have all of their scenes with the people in them, as opposed to importing lights from software to software and having to take multiple guesses at something. It's so much better to be able to see and interact with what you're doing."
For Owens, it was all in keeping with the way Eastwood works. "I keep Clint from having to get into the minutia of it. I love to work cinematically with him on the set and in pre-production and in post. I don't bring technique into the set up -- I just take care of it. And then he doesn't have to delve into that stuff, which can be very tedious. One of the things Clint is great at is giving [everyone] a space to perform in. And so people have to be on their mark when doing their thing, and I think that's a wonderful thing that Clint creates."
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.