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Blur Brings Sci Fi’s Soulkeeper To Life

Blur Studio designed and produced more than 80 visual effects ranging from digital matte paintings to a fully rendered 3D creature for the new Sci Fi Channel series SOULKEEPER. One of the more challenging effects for the studio was a 10-foot reptilian creature with a particularly nasty disposition that battles the shows hero. A full-size animatronic was used during the production, but as it couldn't walk, computer graphics were relied on for the moving shots. Blur Studio animators used a maquette supplied by the company that built the animatronic and scanned it into the computer for reference, but the digital production model of the creature used in the shots was built from scratch. Textures were painted on or derived from photos of the model. Weight was conveyed through the creature's heavy gait as well as through subtleties, such as the CG footprints it leaves in the ground as it walks. The most difficult shots to get right were clouds animated to roll across the sky while lightning crackles within. "Normally this would be done with a cloud tank, a large glass tank full of water with colored inks injected into the water to look like clouds," explained Blur Studio visual effects supervisor David Stinnett. "We did all the clouds in CG. It took a lot of tweaking and testing to get the effect the director was looking for, but in the end it worked really well." Blur Studio's shot list also included wispy ghostlike apparitions, glowing eyes for possessed actors, and a matte painting of a creepy mansion standing on a distant hill. Software employed in the project included: 3D studio max with plug-ins from Digimation, Cebas and Afterworks, among others; Digital Fusion for compositing; Commotion for rotoscoping and image cleanup; and PhotoShop for 2D painting. Intergraph PCs with dual Pentium 550 Xeons were the primary workstations. SOULKEEPER debuts on the Sci Fi Channel in October 2001.