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Rhythm & Hues Uses Massive For Narnia's Armies

Rhythm & Hues took advantage of Massive Software's autonomous agent 3D animation and digital stunts system on The CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, filling the screen with fantastical CG armies that interact via artificial life. The film breaks ground for the variety of characters and animals bought to life using Massive crowds. It also for the first time demonstrates that Massive-generated performances are realistic enough to appear in close proximity to the camera and to hero characters in the scene.

Among Rhythm & Hues' many contributions on the movie were 132 Massive shots, involving some 450,000 total characters: gryphons, centaurs, cheetahs, rhinos, bears, gorillas and goat-legged fawns. The studio built 50 different Massive agents and used them together with custom-recorded motion capture clips to populate the hugely challenging scenes.

Said Dan Smiczek, Massive supervisor, Rhythm & Hues: "Massive is a great tool for bringing characters to life. THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE required highly detailed characters appearing very close to camera. Our final shots have hero characters, actors filmed with green tights for leg replacements, and Massive agents all together in the scene. Not only are they in the same scene; they are standing right next to each other right in front of the camera. We have amazing individual behaviors and nuances coming out in our digital crowd characters due to having used Massive. You can't get this level of interaction with any other software."

The film's big battle sequences, which take place in color-saturated daylight on grass in spring, involve clashes between a pantheon of different characters, winged, footed and hoofed. Ranks of biped and quadruped creatures, produced via Massive with more than 5,500 motion clips, face off in a very visceral fighting style that otherwise would have been difficult to achieve between computer-generated characters.

Rhythm & Hues used Massive Smart Stunts to give battle fatalities an extra dose of realism. Digital stunts in Massive enabled different animals to die different deaths and were also helpful in various other types of interactions, such as a minotaur's tail whacking at flies.

"We were able to pull it all off with team of 10 people, only one of which had prior Massive experience," Smiczek noted. "Everyone was so excited to use Massive and to get involved. Having Massive was essential for this film."

Massive creator Stephen Regelous was also involved in the project, providing hands-on consultation and interfacing closely with Rhythm & Hues on making the most of the software, Smart Stunts and other features. Smiczek and Regelous worked together on the first test agent for the film, which ultimately included anywhere from 100 to 30,000 autonomously animating Massive characters per shot.

Rhythm & Hues (www.rhythm.com) is a preeminent producer of quality visual effects and character animation for entertainment and advertising. With a track record of more than 100 feature films to its credit, the studio also offers full service production expertise to an extensive list of Commercial and Design clients. Currently, Rhythm & Hues' Film division is in production on SUPERMAN RETURNS, CHARLOTTE'S WEB, GARFIELD 2 and FAST AND FURIOUS: TOKYO. In 1995, Rhythm & Hues was recognized with an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for its work on BABE.

Springing into existence to help artists solve real-world production needs on THE LORD OF THE RINGS films, Massive Software (www.massivesoftware.com) is the leading developer of artificial intelligence-based 3D animation systems, and the only proven commercial system for feature film. Massive was founded when Stephen Regelous programmed a unique piece of software for director Peter Jackson to make creation of complicated visual effects scenes involving hundreds of thousands of digital characters a practical reality.

Now a standalone, commercially available product, Massive is used by leading digital production and effects studios, including Weta Digital, The Mill, Animal Logic, Rhythm & Hues and Digital Domain. In 2004, Massive was honored with a Scientific and Engineering Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and with a Technical Innovation Award at the 3D Awards in Copenhagen.