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Tigar Hare Revs Up Photoreal Trailer for Project Gotham Racing III

Tigar Hare Studios has completed a :60 3D-animated theatrical trailer for Microsofts PROJECT GOTHAM RACING III Xbox 360 game. The HDRI photoreal trailer dramatically exemplifies the games slogan, Life Begins at 170, as it introduces three high-end race cars from the game, the Ferrari F430, the Lamborghini Murcielago and the Saleen S7, as they streak in furious competition through the streets of Gotham.

Tigar Hare gave each car a distinct and befitting personality accompanied by visual and audio cues that blend together to create the overall iconic look of the piece. The Ferrari is emblazoned and surrounded by lasers, denoting its precise and accurate nature as it takes sharp corners and careens down narrow alleys. The Murcielago is encompassed by the sight and sound of lightning and thunder as it burns rubber and performs 360s. The Saleen S7is followed by a streaking bullet, underscoring its daredevil antics as it rapidly negotiates swerves and jumps. As the race between the three heroes begins, we see the Saleen roaring down the street, soon to be joined by the Murcielago and finally the Ferrari, which ultimately wins.

Microsoft wanted the trailer to be as photoreal as possible and provided Tigar Hare with very detailed and precise assets for the cars, as well as mapping of 38 city blocks of Manhattan. With a normal five- to six-week production schedule shortened to three weeks, the first step was to line up the street course the cars would travel down.

To achieve HD resolution, the game assets had to be augmented and optimized by re-mapping and recreating the assets in order to give photo-real texture and color to all the elements while showing exacting details such as rims and door jams on the cars. A multitude of conversions from XSI and Maya into 3ds Max were necessary, said lighting supervisor Joe Mangione.

The studio shot downtown Los Angeles for Manhattan with a Nikon D70 digital still camera equipped with a 10mm fisheye lens to capture the basically universal architecture, colors and lighting of a metropolitan setting. A 360-degree HDRI panoramic environment was created by taking 10-12 exposures at each position and rotating the camera 72 degrees from one position to the next.

The 360-degree panorama was then used to light the final NYC environment. Because the scenes took place at dusk, no 3D lighting was employed. Throughout the pipeline, an HDRI floating-point image was used, in contrast to typical 255 RGB, the HDRI image provides an enormous range of energy values needed to reproduce a physically accurate lighting model. Renderings were saved out in floating-point. Compositing was done in Digital Fusion in floating-point. Everything was finally rendered out using 10-bit per channel RGB for Final Cut. Subsequent effects passes created visuals such as tire streaks, smoke pouring off tires and steam rising from various places around the city that actually interacted with the cars as they drove through the environment.

We were very excited to be able to deliver such a high level of realism over so many shots in such a short period of time, visual effects supervisor Michael Tigar. We attribute the success to previous smaller projects that incorporated HDRI in which we were able to work out some of the techniques and gotchas associated with this type of pipeline. Render times were fairly significant so we had to nail it on the first or second try.

Credits include:* Creative Director: David Hare* Visual Effects Supervisor: Michael Tigar* Compositing Supervisor: Brad Gayo* Lighting Supervisor: Joseph Mangione* Animation Supervisor: Aaron Weldon* Producer: Frank Foster* Animator: Gordon Fales* Effects Animator: Chris Felts* Designer/Storyboard Artist: Cliff Iwai* Modeler: Michael Jones* Programmer/Rigging: Randy Kreitzman* Technical Director: Lisa Lavender* Animator: Christopher Lindsay* Lead Animator: Silvia Littlefield* Production Coordinator: Antoinette McFarland* Systems Coordinator: Daniel Sands* Animator: Jason Thielen

Tigar Hare (www.tigarhare.com) is a Sherman Oaks, California-based 3D animation, visual effects and graphic design house.