ComputerCafe Creates Mutant Animals and Swashbuckling Skeletons For Spy Kids 2
In addition to the work done by the Santa Maria location, ComputerCafe's Santa Monica studio contributed approximately 38 shots in which the Spy Kids battle swashbuckling skeletons on top of a rocky cliff. Working from a low-res animatic that was originally done in Alias|Wavefront Maya by animator Chris Olivia, ComputerCafe integrated it into its Maya to Lightwave pipeline. Under the direction of the Santa Monica office's animation supervisor David Lombardi, a team of Maya animators continued with animation and later incorporated all new high-resolution models and textures into the scenes. In addition they added new skeletons in order to guarantee continuity from scene to scene. "We hand animated 63 characters," said Lombardi. "Over 28 shots feature multiple skeletons." Beaver translation software enabled the animators to efficiently translate all the necessary Maya data into Lightwave for lighting, texturing, and final rendering. Radiosity rendering, which calculates bounced lighting, was done in Lightwave. "It's uncommon to use radiosity rendering in production," Lombardi noted. "Traditional CG rendering is faster, but radiosity rendering is much more accurate and realistic, especially for an outdoor scene with nooks, crannies and sword reflections, because it's what happens in nature." The shots were composited in After Effects. The Santa Monica studio also completed wire-removal for the live-action actors in the shots. Writer, producer, director Robert Rodriguez also acted as visual effects supervisor for the film, and ComputerCafe animators were assisted in their communications with Austin, Texas-based Rodriguez by the use of QuickTime Synchro software, developed by visual effects studio Hybride Technologies, in Quebec, which also worked on SPY KIDS 2. Other VFX and animation studios that had a hand in the over 1,000 effects shots in SPY KIDS 2 were Dallas, Texas-based Janimation and Hollywood's Cinesite.