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Giant Killer Robots Create Spirited VFX For Scooby Doo

The CGIScooby isn't the only startling effect in Warner Bros. feature filmSCOOBY DOO. Spooky Island features a host of ghosts and SanFrancisco visual effects house Giant Killer Robots (GKR) delivered120 visual effects shots, most involving the "spirits" of the film'scharacters. When the villain Mondavarius and his team of evil-doerssteal the spirits of the Mystery, Inc. gang, the artists at GKR hadto bring those spirits to life. Working with point cloud scans of theactors' faces, GKR created fully articulated head models of theactors portraying Shaggy, Velma, Fred and Daphne. Then, usingreference video of the actors performing their lines, the artistsanimated the CGI puppet rigs they had created. The studio found theend result was a more controllable type of facial animation thatallowed more flexibility than motion capture would have provided. GKRalso designed an ethereal, tail-like appendage that extended from theface and moved with the spirit, as well as CG hair that matched thatof the actor portraying each character. The spirits were integratedinto two additional effects: a swirling soup of hundreds of spiritsknown as the vat and a tornado-like effect referred to as the spiritvortex. "As with every new project, there was so much we learned onSCOOBY DOO," said Peter Oberdorfer, visual effects supervisor forGKR. "The hair was easily the biggest technical challenge of theproject, and we used SOFTIMAGE|XSI for that. We also used theparticle systems in Maya quite a bit, from steam effects to largescale animations of hundreds of spirits for the vat and vortexeffects." A number of other tools were also used including PhotoShop,After Effects, Shake and Commotion, all running primarily on BOXXTechnologies workstations, as well as a network of beefed-up PCsrunning Windows 2000 for the render farm. "We use the same tools asthe larger shops," he explained, "But as a boutique, we have greaterflexibility and can choose what works best at any given moment. Andif something we need doesn't exist, we'll create it in-house."Additionally, GKR was able to calibrate their monitors to the filmoutput tests allowing them to view all of the shots at full 2kresolution at 24fps on BOXX Technologies' HDBOXX viewer. This provedindispensable in allowing the artists to proof the full compositesbefore each shot was sent to film. GKR is currently working on visualeffects shots for the second and third installments in the MATRIXtrilogy.