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Digital Dimension in Pole Position with Talladega Nights VFX

Digital Dimension continues to help set the pace for seamlessly believable Hollywood visual effects as the lead visual effects studio on the new NASCAR-themed movie TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY. Following on such collaborations as ZATHURA: A SPACE ADVENTURE and BLADE: TRINITY, visual effects supervisor Joe Conmy entrusted the award-winning company with the movies three large NASCAR race sequences, as well as other select scenes, for a total of 267 shots.

TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY, directed by Adam McKay and released by Columbia Pictures, stars Will Farrell as a racecar driver trying to get his career on track. Digital Dimensions extensive contribution consisting of 2D, CG race cars and greenscreen composites, CG crowd creation, shot tracking, image replacement, detailed rotoscoping and digital reflections ensured that the intricately lensed race action set against a packed-to-the-rafters speedway supports the comic contest at every turn.

[Digital Dimension] deliver visual effects that are photorealistic without exception, Conmy said. They complete high-quality work on budget without compromising artistic integrity. And they are great fun to work with. No matter what the challenges, Digital Dimension will find the solution and get in done in a timely fashion.

Digital Dimensions visual effects producer Chris Del Conte noted that because almost all of the racing shots were filmed in empty stadiums, populating the grandstands and recreating many of the infields posed two of the projects biggest challenges. The infields were accomplished by leveraging footage captured with a high-speed moving camera car where possible. Digital Dimension compositors tracked, retimed and color corrected this production footage to create infield splits that perfectly matched the target plates.

The crowd effects (approximately 60 shots) included working in 2D to match crowd plates to the angles and quick maneuvers of the camera, tiling 2D crowd footage or, in some cases, tracking in an entire sea of spectators behind the small group of actors filmed live on set. On shots for which there were no filmed crowd elements that matched the angle and perspective of the camera move, Digital Dimension used Massive Softwares 3D crowd animation system, which allowed thousands of realistically responding, completely digital race fans to be populated in the shot.

Massive is one of the newest additions to our toolset and using the software gave us the ability to create a fully digital crowd with precise control over the crowds movement and range of emotional responses, said Justin Mitchell, senior CG artist, Digital Dimension. Working with typical NASCAR fan models we constructed, we could place characters and give them different levels of behavior and excitement, from sitting attentively in their seats to jumping up and applauding.

TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY also included around 100 visual effects shots completed at Digital Dimension to enhance the realism of scenes that were filmed with the movies principal players in cars on green screen. Digital Dimension added a variety of subtle touches and details to these sequences, including moving backgrounds, grime passes, visor reflections and artificial camera shake, to make it feel as if the actors were really in the race.

The company did certain shots and camera fly-throughs fully in CG, with 3D digital elements ranging from the stadium, track and infield to crowds, hero racecars and even grass. An extensive amount of removals, which saw Digital Dimension eliminating everything from film cameras to cylinders used for spectacular stunt car pyrotechnics, rounded out work.

Software used on the production at Digital Dimension ranged from Eyeons Digital Fusion for compositing to The Foundrys Kronos software. 3D elements were modeled, animated and rendered in Autodesk 3ds Max with mental images mental ray. 3D tracking solutions were applied to shots using Andersson Technologies SynthEyes software, while completely digital 3D crowd scenes were produced with Massive.

Credits include:

* Exec Producer: Benoit Girard* Exec Producer: Dan Lombardo* VFX On-Set Supervisor: Leandro Visconti* VFX Producer: Chris Del Conte* Composite Supervisor: Erik Bruhwiler* 2D Coordinating Supervisor: Tammy Sutton* Lead Compositor: Ryan Smolarek* Lead Key/Compositor: Daniel Rubin* Compositors: Tommy Tran, Brian Smallwood, Travis Wade Ivy, Martin Hilke, Tatjana Bozinovski, Jeremy Appelbaum, Michael Cashore, Marco Paolini, Wing Kwok* Roto/Paint Artists: Chad Ridgeway, George Gervan Jr., Richard Gervan, Dan Walker* Matte Artist: Patrick Mullane* Lead CG Artist: Andrew Roberts* 3D Artists: Justin Mitchell, Mitch Gates, Travis Yonke, Phi Tran, Tong Tran, Brian Demetz, Brandi Johnson, Hans Payer* VFX Coordinators: Joseph Bell, Anthony Kramer* VFX Production Assistant: Landon Medeiros* Pipeline & Tools Programmer: Sean Looper* Systems Administrator: John Brake* Systems Infrastructure: Guillermo Pussetto

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 garnered three Visual Effects Society Awards and six Emmy Awards.

Digital Dimension recently completed visual effects for projects, including SLITHER, BORDERTOWN, FINAL DESTINATION 3 AND DEEPOS UNDERSEA 3D WONDERSHOW for the new Georgia Aquarium. Digital Dimension is in production as the sole vfx facility on Eddie Murphys new film NORBIT as well as an all-CG animated feature, THE LEGEND OF SECRET PASS. This past spring, Digital Dimension also won its sixth Emmy Award for its work on the Super Bowl 39 Open for FOX.

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