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Rhythm & Hues Gets Smart with Massive

Rhythm & Hues was the first vfx studio to apply Massives new Smart Stunts capability on Foxs ELEKTRA last year. Smart Stunts simplifies the creation of large groups of CG characters or creatures in Massive, the Academy Award-winning 3D animation system for AI-driven crowd-related effects used in THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, developed by Massive Software.

Turns out that R&H was already using Massive on THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE (a Dec. 9 release through Disney) when they realized that it could prove helpful on ELEKTRA for the creation of hundreds of CG snakes.

Massive supervisor was already teaming with his R&H colleague, technical animator Marc Bryant, in helping the studio adopt Massive for their considerable character work on THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, now in production for a Dec. 9 release through Disney.

We rapidly prototyped a test that gave us favorable results, explained Smiczek." In addition to human stunts, Massive gives us completely arbitrary, non-human-specific skeletons and the ability to animate a large number of things interacting realistically.

In ELEKTRA, the snakes are animated procedurally inside Massive while also being influenced by gravity, inertia, forces and collisions. "Previously, more work was required to get the agents to perform in character during dynamics," said Massive creator Stephen Regelous. When we developed Smart Stunts, we did further R&D on controlling dynamic agents, took the results of that and put it into the code. This makes it easier and faster for the artist to use."

Massive Software has done a great job working with us as a customer, providing training, tutorials, getting us production-ready new features and even delivering a new dynamics engine to speed our SIM times, Smiczek stated. Ive always envisioned that the great Massive work IN THE LORD OF THE RINGS movies was the beginning of a new era in visual effects. There are so many different things you can do in Massive, and Smart Stunts makes the package even more capable.

Massive has become an important tool for us at our facility," added Richard Hollander, president of Rhythm & Hues film division. "It is now clearly an application that is providing wide-ranging capabilities for the motion picture industry.

The key to making this sequence look real, said Mike O¹Neal, the digital supervisor on ELEKTRA, was our ability to simulate snakes pushing against each other and falling with gravity, layered under their overall animation goal. Smart Stunt technology made this possible.

Companies using Massive can tap into a range of benefits, including the Softwares Ready-to-Run agents, cloth simulation, realtime animation tool and, now, Smart Stunts, all wrapped into one Massive license. More and more, studios purchasing Massive for completion of a specific large crowd sequence are finding it well suited to a variety of other visual effects needs. Once in house, the software is being cross-purposed as a tool on scenes that may not have thousands of characters, but have more than artists would like to animate via key frame or motion capture methods.

Rhythm & Hues' film division ( is a preeminent producer of quality visual effects and character animation, with a track record of more than 100 feature films. Upcoming productions include: THE RING 2, THE LONGEST YARD, SERENITY and THE INTERPRETER.

Based in Auckland, New Zealand, Massive Software ( now offers Massive as a standalone, commercially available product, which is used by Weta Digital, The Mill, Animal Logic and Rhythm & Hues.