In his big light saberduel, Yoda battles Count Dooku like a live-action character, yet he'sall 3D. So how'd they do it? Well, Softimage Co.'s characteranimation and effects software, SOFTIMAGE|3D, was used by ILM tocreate many of STAR WARS: EPISODE II "ATTACK OF THE CLONES" stunningvisual effects and characters, including Yoda, the Kaminoans andDexter Jettster. SOFTIMAGE|3D was used to animate over 80 creaturesand give the CG figures believable expressions and movements. "Weused SOFTIMAGE|3D to pre-visualize and finish an incredible number ofscenes involving computer-generated animated characters," said JamesTooley, technical animation supervisor at ILM. "Whether it was tobring the right behavior to our digital characters, keyframing oftheir animation or staging natural movement via motion capture,SOFTIMAGE|3D empowered us to raise the bar of believability with theCG imagery we create." ILM upgraded to an early version of what wasto become SOFTIMAGE|3D version 4.0 mid-production in order to takeadvantage of the new version's features and convert from IRIX basedsystems to more powerful and cost-effective Linux workstations."SOFTIMAGE|3D on Linux is a top 3D animation system," commented ILMlead animator Chris Mitchell. "As soon as SOFTIMAGE|3D on Linuxbecame available, we upgraded mid-production. The transition wasabsolutely seamless. Not only were we able to keep all our familiartools unchanged and efficiently import our existing files, shots andmodels, but we were able to immediately take advantage of theincrease in processing power that the new hardware and softwareafforded us. The difference in speed was just amazing." Softimage Co.recently halved the price of SOFTIMAGE|3D version 4.0, now availablefor US$1,495.
Read more about animating Yoda in Animation World Magazine. BillDesowitz speaks with ILM on how they created Yoda in CGI and broughthim to action.