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Digital Dimension Dives into ‘Deepo’ Aquarium Film

Award-winning visual effects studio Digital Dimension makes a splash in fully animated entertainment with the completion of DEEPO, an underwater adventure piece that marks the companys first all-CG entry. Renowned themed park attraction developer Gary Goddard entered a partnership with Digital Dimension to produce and direct the film, which is the centerpiece of the 4-D theater presentation at the recently opened 500,000-square-foot, $250-million-dollar new Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.

Both of Digital Dimensions studios were involved with the project. Digital Dimension Montreal handled storyboarding, layout, modeling, animation, rendering and compositing of the 12-minute movie, which features more than a dozen characters in stereoscopic 3-D. Digital Dimensions exec producers Ben Girard, Jerome Morin and producer Chris Del Conte regularly held meetings with Goddard in Los Angeles to review shots sent from Montreal via the companys virtual private network. The success of the production has led to an all-CG feature film deal with ex-Disney producers. Digital Dimension Montreal is currently recruiting additional CG staff to support this animated feature project, already in production.

The Georgia Aquarium, reputedly the largest aquarium in the world, houses more than 100,000 animals in eight million gallons of fresh and salt water. DEEPO plays in the sites theater and has audiences donning 3-D glasses to see a colorful, musical story about marine life and the responsibilities of humankind.

This is our first fully animated project and, following our horse animation on RACING STRIPES, we were ready for it, said Michel Heroux, vp, post-production, Digital Dimension Montreal. The biggest challenge was working in 4-D stereoscopic, because that meant doing everything twice. DEEPO has a stage/live-show feel; the characters know we are looking at them and theyre looking at us, so it was important to get into a looking at the camera, kind of wink-wink interact-with-the-audience animation style.

Characters fish, sharks, sea turtles who talk, swim and sing were modeled based on concepts by character designer Phil Mendez. Three-dimensional animation was done using Autodesk 3ds Max, while Eyeon Digital Fusion was used for stereoscopic compositing and mental images mental ray for rendering. Final, rendered animation involved dozens of different passes backgrounds, light rays, colors, shadows, translucency, passes on the fish for shininess, etc. to create the vivid personalities and surroundings under the sea.

Deepo was sponsored by Home Depot, which made possible the aquarium_s new theater in 4-D.

Goddard is one of the leaders in theme park attraction design and content for motion picture, theatre and live entertainment properties. His credits include TERMINATOR II 3-D for Universal Studios, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF SPIDER-MAN (3-D Ride) for Universal Studios, STAR TREK: THE EXPERIENCE for Paramount Parks and Hilton Las Vegas and JURASSIC PARK: THE RIDE for Universal Studios Hollywood.

Digital Dimensions other stereoscopic work includes the IMAX feature MAGNIFICENT DESOLATION: WALKING ON THE MOON 3D, produced by Tom Hanks. The studio recently wrapped visual effects on the Sony movie, ZATHURA.

Digital Dimension (www.digitaldimension.com) is an award-winning visual effects studio with locations in Burbank and Montreal. 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 garnered two Visual Effects Society Awards and five Emmy Awards.