Keyframe Digital Hits Finish Line for Crazy Canucks

Keyframe Digital Prods., a digital animation and visual effects studio based in Ontario, Canada, has completed all vfx work for the feature CRAZY CANUCKS, produced by Alberta Film Works. Keyframe was the exclusive effects house for the movie that will air on CTV this fall.

Crazy Canucks tells the inspiring true story of the Canadian Men's Alpine Team rising to fame on the World Cup Downhill Circuit during the 1974-76 seasons. The film celebrates the achievements of popular Canadian athletes "Jungle" Jim Hunter, Dave Irwin, Dave Murray, Steve Podborski and Ken Read whose relentless charging of the toughest courses earned them the nickname "Crazy Canucks."

The sports drama is based on the book WHITE CIRCUS, co-authored by team member Ken Read and journalist Matthew Fisher and was filmed in Innsbruck, Seefeld, Obsteig and St. Anton in the Tirol province of Austria.

"We were asked to provide numerous effects, visible and invisible, including CGI composites of a 1970's period French rescue helicopter, mountain scenery, set extensions and crowd extensions." said Clint Green, co-founder of Keyframe with Darren Cranford. "We're very pleased that Mr. Bradshaw entrusted Keyframe with this quality show."

For Keyframe, one of the main challenges of CRAZY CANUCKS was to create realistic simulations of the large crowds that would be at such a sporting event. The project required a multi-step process. First, it was important to create a library of general character movements: people mulling about in conversation, walking and cheering. The animation software of choice for the Keyframe team was Discreet's 3ds max. Once an appropriate number of moves were generated, the animators then rendered the crowd simulations giving different movement parameters or random crowd equations to groups of characters in a scene. They made sure every character had their own unique movements, while at the same time being able to interact with other characters.

Many shots also required a 3D tracking system to aid with the addition of crowds to the moving camera plates. The success of any 3D characters, locked naturally within a 2D environment, is only as solid as the quality of the tracking system. In this case, it enabled the compositing artists to create the illusion that their 3D characters were actually there on the hills in Austria cheering the skiers on to the finish line.

These rendered 3D crowds were then 32 bit-rendered and imported into the compositing software. Using Discreet's combustion software, the Keyframe team achieved seamless composites by taking full advantage of combustion's Z depth and multi-layering functions. Once the general composite and selections were complete, each file was then color-corrected and then film grain added to match with the supplied high definition plates.

"The project went smoothly and was completed ahead of schedule," said Cranford

CRAZY CANUCKS was produced and directed by Randy Bradshaw and exec produced by Alberta Filmworks' Doug MacLeod. The screenplay was adapted by Don Truckey (NET WORTH, LONESOME DOVE) and Graeme Manson (THE ELEVENTH HOUR, LUCKY GIRL). CRAZY CANUCKS has been acquired by Alliance Atlantis Communications for world-wide distribution.

Keyframe also recently completed all effects work for the third season of MUTANT X. Having worked on all three seasons of the successful sci-fi series, Keyframe created all visual effects for the last two seasons, including at least 100 shots per episode on a10-day turnaround schedule. MUTANT X is currently in re-runs and airs on WB and Fox.

"Great visual effects demand an understanding and co-operative marriage between concept, camera work, special (physical) effects and CGI," stated designer John Blackie of John Blackie Designs. "Working together with the experienced and innovative creative talent at Keyframe on CRAZY CANUCKS, we were able to develop totally believable effects in a timely and cost-effective manner. Keyframe is constantly working towards a state of excellence in the visual arena."

Keyframe Digital (www.keyframe.ca) provides traditional 2D and 3D animation, compositing and effects with an emphasis on state-of-the-art pre-visualization services. Keyframe's credits include such feature films as SECRET WINDOW, DRIVEN, LEFT BEHIND, EXIT WOUNDS, DON'T SAY A WORD, K-19 - THE WIDOWMAKER, BULLETPROOF MONK, and X-MEN.

Keyframe is the 2003 Accolade Winner in the Award of Excellence and Best of Show categories for work on the LITTLEST LIGHT ON THE CHRISTMAS TREE. The company is currently putting the finishing touches on its own original property, THE HUGGLERS, a 3D-animated Christian video for pre-school children being readied for a direct-to-video release this Christmas. THE HUGGLERS has also been awarded an Accolade Award as well as Keyframe's first Telly Award.

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