New Hardware, Water and Aliens for Battleship
Image Engine created the Thugs aboard the Naval Destroyer ship. ILM supplied the work-in-progress animated turntables and rig for Image Engine to take the Thug the rest of the way. "Initially the Thug was designed for a 'search and destroy' mission, which meant that it would smash apart the engine room to sabotage the ship," explains Image Engine's VFX supervisor Chris Harvey. "This mission changed part way through to reconnaissance, requiring a different approach to handling both the design and animation.
"The Thug was originally designed to look like an NFL Running Back, but Berg subsequently asked us to make him look like a big offensive Lineman," added animation lead Jeremy Stewart. "The new design brief was intended to make the Thug look bigger and heavily armored. The armor looks great, but unfortunately more armor usually means limited movement because in the real world, armor or even heavy clothing limits a person's mobility.
"We added a lot of controls to the armor which was rigged to the alien's skin, some to give us more movement, others to lock it place. During animation, we put a lot of consideration into how the body movements would affect the armor. Although we had motion capture for most of the shots, we had to thoroughly edit it and often completely replace it to keep the armor looking intact. The mocap was also revised to give a better sense of weight and timing."
Bill Desowitz is former senior editor of AWN and VFXWorld. He's the owner of the Immersed in Movies blog (www.billdesowitz.com), a regular contributor to Thompson on Hollywood at Indiewire and author of James Bond Unmasked (www.jamesbondunmasked.com), which chronicles the 50-year evolution of 007 on screen and features interviews with all six actors.