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Pendulum Helps Midway Pimp their LA Rush Cinematics

San Diego-based 3D animation studio, Pendulum, recently completed cinematic work for the MTV/Midway Games co-developed interactive property, LA RUSH. Nearly 16 minutes of fully 3D CGI cinematic cut-scenes introduce the viewer to the games key characters and story. LA RUSH is the sequel to Midways hit racing title, SAN FRANCISCO RUSH. Along with a huge selection of signature and real-world cars, the game also features the crew from West Coast Customs of MTVs popular PIMP MY RIDE television series.

The cinematic takes viewers throughout familiar Los Angeles hot spots, including Santa Monica, Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Viewers are treated to a healthy dose of 3D animated eye-candy as the game cuts back and forth between racing and the intricate behind-the-scenes storyline, all to a soundtrack provided by some of todays most popular hip-hop artists. Well-known voice and acting talent include Bill Bellamy, Orlando Jones, Trikz DaSilva and rap artist, Twista.

We were thrilled to be a part of LA RUSH, said Pendulums Mike McCormick, director of animation. We were especially attracted to the project because of the detailed and dramatic storyline that was at the heart of the entire game.

Due to the significant length of the cinematics, Pendulum was originally tasked with creating graphics that felt similar to the in-game cinematic style. It was our responsibility to attain a certain level of quality, and that would have looked great, but we really wanted to push that further. We spent tremendous effort blending classic cinematic techniques and first class CGI animation with a wide range of technologies, like motion capture, to convey the full quality and excitement of Midways storyline said exec producer, Robert Taylor.

The studio worked closely with Midway to flesh out the script by storyboarding the entire production in-house, after which they were able to create a 2D animatic, which would evolve into very specific 3D animatics and eventually into fully rendered 3D animation. Pendulum executed 100% of the production with Alias Maya and Motion Builder, as well as mental ray rendering software at the core of the pipeline.

The studios owners, Mike McCormick and Rob Taylor, directed the animation and were responsible for the look and quality of the cinematic sequences, while Midway drove the overall creative and was responsible for ensuring that production adhered to specific game and plot issues. Along with the expertise and leading-edge technologies of Los Angeles-based House of Moves, Taylor and McCormick directed 3,000 seconds of motion capture, which was used to integrate hundreds of characters throughout the cinematic sequences. The 266 fully 3D shots included large crowd scenes driven by proprietary crowd management tools for sequences ranging from large groups of racing fans to multiple MTV-style pimped-out pool-side parties at the heros mansion. Pendulum was also responsible for the creation and enhancement of all production assets, including the development of realistic 3D characters based on real-world actor likenesses, for which they used photogrammetry modeling and texturing techniques. The character animation team also utilized the Syflex cloth simulator to create moving hair and tons of realistic clothing.

Taylor served as the Pendulums exec producer. Tony Peterson, of Midway Games, is credited as the productions writer, with Midways Nico Bihary serving as the games and all cut-scenes associate producer.

Pendulum Studios is a 3D animation and effects studio specializing in high-end character animation and storytelling. The studio strives to produce the highest quality animation for commercials, game cinematics, film and their own animated shorts. For more information, visit www.studiopendulum.com or call (619) 725-0750.

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Rick DeMott
Animation World Network
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