The collaboration is set to change how characters are created in the pre-production process and prepared for final shots.
Santa Monica, CA -- HALON Entertainment, a previsualization company renowned for creating groundbreaking sequences to many of Hollywood’s blockbuster films like The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Parts 1 & 2 and James Cameron’s Avatar, has partnered with MinimoVfx, a Barcelona-based VFX company that specializes in creature design and asset development.
The unique collaboration ushers in a new take on pre-production that would avoid the cost of building CG actors and creatures more than once, as well as prevent any technical and performance surprises well before final VFX and even principal photography begins. The goal is to develop creatures that are fully modeled, rigged, surfaced, performance tested and ready for any VFX pipeline. Typically, a character is conceived by an art department, built by HALON for previs and then built again by a VFX studio for final shots. HALON and MinimoVfx's “Built it once” process would eliminate duplication of effort and create digital performers in the pre-production stage that can live all the way to the audience in the movie theater.
Daniel Gregoire, CEO and previsualization director of HALON, said many of the decisions made in previs – a technique widely used in filmmaking to conceptualize scenes in a movie before filming begins – are done while designs are still maturing. We wonder what the final CG performer will be capable of and if it can truly deliver a directed, specific performance over the course of a film. This uncertainly often causes pain for all involved as shots move to final animation. He and MinimoVfx CEO, Felix Balbas, hope to change that.
“The more accurately we can represent CG creatures in previs, the easier it will be for VFX houses to accomplish the final shots. We run into this fix it in post mantra all the time. That's expensive! Why not fix it in previs first,” Gregoire said. “Also, if the actual assets we use to do our job can be literally transferred through to the on-set and VFX houses, everything becomes more cost effective. Mistakes can be avoided and rogue re-interpretations can be eliminated. The design will maintain continuity no matter what VFX house is doing the work.”
Balbas, Dani Buhigas and Maurizio Giglioli founded MinimoVfx in 2012. Each have worked in the visual effects industry for more than 15 years developing creatures and pipelines for films such as John Carter, Avatar, Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series.
While previs is never seen in the final rendering on a film, Balbas said that could change. “The purpose of this partnership is to achieve the final look of a creature,” he said. “Working with the best VFX houses and on the biggest productions of the past decade have helped us understand how painful certain mistakes can be when they happen at the wrong time of VFX production. Our partnership with HALON is ideal because it will allow both of us to offer a more complete product.”
Meanwhile, distance won’t be an issue for the two companies when it comes to sharing assets. HALON, which is based in Santa Monica, has remote teams worldwide and assets are always encrypted. Additionally, MinimoVfx can be working when everyone at HALON is asleep and vice-versa.
The studios are currently working together on Dome, directed by Brandon Fayette, and several highly anticipated projects in the making.
Source: Halon Entertainment
Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.