These days vampires dont merely poof away with a fabled stake through the heart, they combust into bits and vaporize away. At least thats what happens when vampires are vanquished in New Line Cinemas BLADE: TRINITY, thanks to scanning technology from Eyetronics.
To create the desired effect for both the vampire death scenes and the action sequences, filmmakers turned to three different vfx houses: Giant Killer Robots for the high-resolution stunt effects of the main characters, CafeFX for the boiling effect on the vampires skins (both inside and out), and Digital Dimension for the traditional ashing or breaking down of vampires into tiny particle pieces when theyre vanquished.
The actors were scanned with Eyetronics portable scanning system, which enabled the company to take their technology where it was needed and make it available at a moments notice. With hundreds of extras, and without knowing exactly who would need to be scanned when, sessions sometimes happened on an ad-hoc basis; flexibility was essential.
"The cyberscanning for BLADE: TRINITY required a company that could not only deliver fast and accurate scans to multiple locations but also be flexible enough to travel back and forth from Vancouver throughout the course of a five-month shoot, said Joe Conmy, visual effects producer for the film. The portable scanning equipment allowed the technicians from Eyetronics to simply hop on a morning flight and be on set and ready to scan by midday.
In six visits, technicians captured about 60 full-body scans of Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Triple H and vampire extras.
We also did a couple of Rottweilers, and a devils creature that was 7 feet tall, says Nick Tesi, Eyetronics vp of U.S. operations.
Eyetronics ShapeCam system, a portable scanning device based on off-the-shelf camera hardware, captures geometry and textures by taking a photo with two rapid flashes: the first captures geometry information by projecting a grid onto the subject through a fixed-focus lens. The second captures high-resolution textures with a simple picture.
Of the 60 scans taken, 55 were selected by Conmy to be processed by Eyetronics using its proprietary ShapeSnatcher software. ShapeSnatcher turns the 2D grid information captured by ShapeCam into 3D models. It enables Eyetronics to automatically stitch together the different 3D perspectives, blend them into a smooth model, and output them in common animation formats. The 3D models for BLADE:TRINITY were output as high- and low-resolution 3ds max files for Digital Dimension, and as Alias Maya files for Giant Killer Robots and CafeFX.
Regardless of the vfx each was going for, having the 3D scan data saved all three facilities a great deal of time. While difficult to estimate just how much, Domenic DiGiorgio of CafeFX says the alternative would have been to obtain the required 3D geometry data of the actors by cyberscanning or modeling them by hand from reference photos.
Either alternative would have added substantial time to our schedule, DiGiorgio says. The cyberscanned geometry would have needed significant cleanup and remeshing to implement into our pipeline, and the hand modeling would have required substantial time to accurately reproduce the actor.
Instead, CafeFX used a multilevel matchmove rig with the Eyetronics scanning system to capture detailed scans of the actors heads and bodies. Artists then used LightWave 3D to apply a decaying skin effect onto the actors digital models. Once lit and rendered as multiple elements, compositors integrated the effect onto the original footage. The processes for the other two vfx houses were similar.
Eyetronics supplied very accurate scans at exactly the resolution we required, DiGiorgio adds. The scans also come with the associated color texture maps fitted to the UV coordinates, which made our job a lot easier. We will definitely use the software again for other projects.
Eyetronics (www.eyetronics.com), a 3D scanning company known for its cinematic work, recently provided the facial motion capture technology and services that helped Tiger Aspect Prods., The Moving Picture Co. and the Discovery Channel make VIRTUAL HISTORY possible.