Leading visual effects studio Digital Dimension completed several dozen visual effects shots for the recent New Line feature MONSTER-IN-LAW. Seamless composites and digital effects created by Digital Dimension in collaboration with director of photography Russell Carpenter are a perfect fit for the film's gorgeous Southern California look and sets.
The movie's opening sweep from sun-baked Venice Beach to the adjacent Spanish-style apartment where star Jennifer Lopez resides was realized through complex shot extensions and visual effects transitions that invisibly married live-action footage with objects created in 3D.
"The concept was to create a seamless crane shot that starts in the VeniceBoardwalk and slowly moves left, getting into a nearby building where theJennifer Lopez character is revealed," said Digital Dimensions compositing supervisor Leandro Visconti. "Of course, the apartment wasn't really located in Venice or anywhere even close, so fulfilling the filmmakers' vision required us to pull off the shot as a visual effect, using a quite sophisticated combination of 3D tracking with digital transitions and elements."
Digital Dimension worked backwards from the apartment building plates, tracking them in 3D to calculate how fast the crane-and dolly-and-roof-mounted camera was moving and how that movement could be extended to the Boardwalk shot, which had necessitated a higher, heavie crane with no access to a dolly or roof. James Coulter, senior technical director at Digital Dimension, determined precisely what camera angles and speeds were required to make the shots match by building and animating the crane in 3D.
From there, Digital Dimension devised a transition between the plates, opting to use a palm tree at the head of the apartment plate as a wipe. It also "dressed" a fast food restaurant visible in the Boardwalk plate with a top terrace designed in 3D so it would fit with the Spanish architecture apartment that, in the final composite, would sit just behind. Finally,Digital Dimension blended the two different plates that form the push-in camera move on the apartment building and windows to look like one long, perfectly harmonized shot.
"Tracking and extracting a matte from a palm tree that is rotating against a background of shingled roofs and shadow grid patterns that share chroma/luma values with the tree itself was incredibly difficult but produced better results than rotoscoping," Visconti continued.
Digital Dimension's toolset included Eyeon's Digital Fusion for rotoscoping, keying, comping and morphing, and Autodesk 3ds Max with mental ray and global illumination for creation and rendering elements in 3D. In addition to the opening Monster-In-Law shot sequence, the company also contributed 31 additional shots involving compositing and clean up.
Digital Dimension also completed vfx for MR. & MRS. SMITH and is currently working on MAGNIFICENT DESOLATION, the IMAX 3D film produced by Tom Hanks.
Digital Dimension (www.digitaldimension.com) is an award-winning visual effects studio with locations in Burbank, California, and Montreal, Canada. The company was founded in 1997 and specializes in 3D animation, motion graphics and visual effects for film, television and interactive media. Digital Dimension has contributed effects to BLADE: TRINITY, SCOOBY DOO II, SON OF THE MASK, THE LAST SAMURAI and many others. Digital Dimension has garnered two Visual Effects Society Awards and four Emmy Awards.