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TeamWorks Digital Cranks Up the 'Torque'

TeamWorks Digital recently completed work on Warner Bros.' TORQUE, the hyper-real motorcycle racing film that opens Jan. 16. "TORQUE is a project that enabled us to provide constant input to the visual effects of the show," says TeamWorks Digital owner David Allen. "We contributed in such a way that translated the director's unique style and vision to the screen." TORQUE is directed by music video honcho Joseph Kahn, making his first feature film debut.

TeamWorks Digital started work under a tight schedule to deliver previsualization of sequences before principal photography. "We were brought onto the show initially by visual effects supervisor Eric Durst for a few weeks of previs," says Allen. The number of visual effects shots on the show expanded, and TeamWorks Digital grew to accommodate the need. "In addition to completing previs for every visual effects sequence, we delivered over 75 final visual effects shots.

"The most complex scene to previzualize, which was also the first to be completed, was the train sequence. Take an old California Zephyr and race a couple of motorcycles alongside of it in the desert. Now for the twist. Jump the bikes on top of the moving train and send the camera on a 540-degree rotation around the bike and through the back wheel as it lands on the top. All at the speed of the train. Needless to say, it became the best visual shot of the film."

A freeway chase in the film involved dropping a Hummer H2 onto a Porsche 911 from high in the air. TeamWorks Digital previsualized the scene and later worked to remove rigging in the shot. "It would have been great to do the shot entirely 3D and keep the vehicles for ourselves, but apparently that was not an option," Allen adds.

TeamWorks Digital rendered computer generated motorcycles and trains, composited them within landscapes, and edited together entire scenes of previsualization. Allen and crew employed a wide range of software, including Alias Maya, Electric Image Universe, Adobe After Effects, Discreet Combustion and Final Cut Pro from Apple.

"TORQUE utilized a much different skill-set than previous films," Allen explains. "Where the visual effects from THE ONE involved fluid character animation in bullet-time scenarios, TORQUE was comprised of rigid mechanics in real world environments. For a growing company, it was the confirmation of our intended path into larger projects with more complex visual effects."

Los Angeles-based TeamWorks Digital ( creates visual effects for feature films and commercials. In addition, TeamWorks Digital provides motion graphics for commercials and professional sports teams like the Sacramento Kings, Carolina Panthers and Nashville Predators.