R!OT Goes To The Moon For Pluto Nash
A team of digital matte artists, computer animators and visual effects specialists from R!OT helped to build the first city on the moon for Warner Bros.' latest comedy THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH. The R!OT team prepared a series of digital cityscapes of the lunar metropolis, complete with trains, buses, holographic signage, office towers and a multitude of lunar residents on scooters. The digital shots, including several fly-overs revealing large expanses of the city, appear throughout the film. "It is a city encased in glass," said R!OT lead matte painter Rocco Gioffre. "Our challenge was to create paintings that suggested all the complexity and life of a real city. We wanted it to look alive and lived in. It needed to suggest scale and yet, because it is on the moon, feel claustrophobic and have the character of a self-contained colony." Set in the year 2087, PLUTO NASH features star Eddie Murphy in the title role as the proprietor of a lunar nightclub who gets into hot water when he refuses to sell out to the mob. The city where the story is set is nestled into a large crater on the lunar surface and covered in an enormous dome. Since much of the film was shot on sound stages, the majority of the "city of the future" had to be created in a computer. The size and scope of the city is suggested largely through a series of detailed digital matte paintings. One such shot has the camera traveling over a four-square block section of the city looking down at buildings, curving roadways, glass-enclosed subway tunnels and neon signs displaying holographic images. Small vehicles zip around the surface. People can be glimpsed moving like ants far below. This scene was assembled over the course of some three months by the team at R!OT. Designed by Deak Ferrand, an Academy Award winner for his work on WHAT DREAMS MAY COME, much of the building architecture and other 3D details were created by computer animator Hans Payer. "It is a full 3D environment, where every building, every vehicle and every person is artificial," explained Payer. "Our challenge was to make it as realistic as possible and we did that by making it as rich and organic as real life. We added many layers of details, more than the audience will ever notice, and we meld them into a natural environment." The animation and matte paintings were done on Windows NT and Windows 2000 workstations using Softimage 3D for animation, Adobe PhotoShop for matte paintings and Adobe AfterEffects for preliminary compositing. Final compositing was done via Discreet Inferno workstations.