Cutting Edge VFX of Australia (www.cuttingedge.com) recently completed the animated opening and closing credits for Disney's just-released DVD premiere GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE 2 (Walt Disney Home Entertainment, $29.99).
Head of animation Ian Anderson and art director Daniel Cox designed the titles, working closely with Cutting Edge producer Megs Gildea, and the film's producer Gregg Hoffman and director David Grossman. The brief was to update and modernize the 2D animated sequence from the original film, yet still retain the happy bright and primary color scheme. The titles also had to set the feel and narrative for the film, as George battles issues of commitment to his family and his duties as Jungle King.
Cutting Edge created multiple versions of the storyboards, which were completed in-house by Anderson, until Disney settled on the concept of the Jungle King on a quest for an elusive purple fruit. The opening titles are approximately two-and-a-half minutes of full animation, which included 37 scenes and incorporated 20 credits; two of which were 3D multi-plane sequences rendered in 3D. The credits appear throughout the sequence on trees, underwater rocks and even on the sides of crocodiles. After sign-off on the storyboards, Anderson and a small team of 2D animators devised the layouts and began animating the characters. Cox created a color-script, and then moved onto using the layouts to create style frames for each scene.
As the titles begin, we fade from black and start deep in the jungle, moving past lush foliage until we come out of the Jungle and into a valley, where the logo is revealed. In typical George fashion, our hero swings into frame but loses control and smashes into the logo, which causes it to crack and tumble to the ground.
Cutting Edge wanted to create a multiplane effect and utilize Maya almost like a Rostrum camera. VFX supervisor David Peers and 3D supervisor Andy Monks worked closely with lead animator Scott Thomas, developing a technique that would achieve this. Thomas modeled geometry based on the 2D drawings, and then projected the final painted textures onto the 3D. The logo was pre-scored to crack and break apart, and then keyframe-animated with hero pieces to make the scene more dynamic. The whole sequence was then rendered as separate passes on the SGI Origin renderfarm for comping, including depth and volumetric light effects. The valley, which was painted at 4k by Cox, was broken up into about 14 layers, and then modeled and rendered with the same technique. Additional 3D effects included a toon-style caterpillar, water bubbles, ripples and dust by senior animator David Clayton.
George recovers, and swings off to begin his quest for the purple fruit. During this roller coaster ride through the jungle, George falls into water infested with crocodiles and hippo's, he inadvertently swings into trees, interrupts a game of fruit ball when he grabs the fruit the animals are using as a ball. We are also re-acquainted with his family of Ursula and George Jr., and also introduced to many of his Jungle friends.
All the characters were animated in 2D and painted in-house utilizing Toonz software, and then handed to the Shake team lead by senior compositor Sam Cole. His team used Shake to integrate the characters and backgrounds through the use of edge effects, grading, animated shadows and various digital effects such as volumetrics, caustics and rippling for the underwater scenes. Using grading tools developed in-house for the Shake engine, they were able to make changes in color temperature across a whole sequence very quickly as George travels through a large range of environments. Often the Shake compositors were generating dynamic camera moves using the large resolution backgrounds supplied by the background artists.
The backgrounds were painted digitally using textured brushes, lead by Cox and background artist Kurtis Richmond. Some of the layered files were up to 8K in size for the dynamic camera moves.
Motion graphics designer Tundra Gorza did a final grade and composite in Inferno.
To complete the closing titles Cutting Edge needed to create a transition from live action to animation. Disney's production team shot George swinging into the treehouse and on impact the Cutting Edge VFX team created 2D dust swirls that roll over the camera as a device to cut to a 2D Ursula, who winces at the impact. We then begin to pullback and see that George has formed "The End" on the treehouse, through his multiple mishaps. As the camera move continues we see a dramatic sunset over the lush jungle setting, until we fade to black and the credits roll.
Cutting Edge VFX also completed three 2D animated sequences for the film, in addition to 225 visual effects shots.