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Jellyfish Pictures Take Digital Effects at RTS Craft and Design Awards

The RTS (Royal Television Society) Craft and Design Awards 2006/2007 were presented on Nov. 29 at the Savoy Hotel, Strand, London, with Jellyfish Pictures earning the award for Visual Effects - Digital Effects for FIGHT FOR LIFE BBC/DCTP (Germany)/Discovery for BBC One. The other nominee was 20TH CENTURY BATTLES BBC Two: Primeval Impossible Pictures/Framestore CFC for ITV1. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Nick Park of Aardman Animation.

In this six-part series, FIGHT FOR LIFE tells the dramatic story of how the human body triumphs in crisis needed to be told from the inside as well as the outside.

With 250 shots, CG recreations include how a heart attack would look from the inside, a baby struggling for life in the womb, and a journey even deeper into the body to see how the human immune system fights against deadly invaders.

There were three aspects to the required work: First, photoreal body interior shots of organs, bones and babies; second, microscopic shots showing the intimate workings of our smallest cells and the mechanisms that maintain and regenerate life; and third, X-ray "trauma vision" style shots showing in a unique and transparent way how our body deals with trauma, how it recovers and how medicine helps it to recover.

Jellyfish Visual Effects Supervisor and Director Philip Dobree created a team made up of in-house staff and an international selection of lighting TDs, animators, modelers and compositors that were all specialists in their field. A combination of techniques and approaches were tested in order to come up with the best methods for achieving their goal. High-speed video was used to capture elements of condensation, particles, splats, smears and bubbles to help the compositors add extra real elements into their shots. Simulation software was used to re-create liquid effects, and multiple render passes and elements meant that the compositors had maximum flexibility in creating the desired look without the need to go back and re-render.

Software used was SOFTIMAGE| XSI, Apple Shake, Adobe After Effects, PF track, Real Flow, Adobe Photoshop. The rendering was done in mental ray using up to 20 passes that were composited in Shake; typically these included: lighting (RGB), multiple beauty, color, Final Gathering, ambient occlusion, reflection, sub surface scattering, specular, depth of field, vector and incidence.

Complete models were created of the whole human body and all the internal organs, circulation, muscles, skeleton, nerves, skin, brain etc. This was then adapted and rigged across for all body ages, sexes and types from pregnant women to babies in the womb.

The Jellyfish Pictures team also included:

Marco Iozzi (lead lighting and rendering TD), Matt Chandler (lead lighting and texturing - microscopic world), Jayson King (lead animator), Antonio Mossucca (modeling, lighting, rendering), Sam Howell, Katrina De Graaff, Gemma Thomson, Conal Wenn, Didier Muanza, Mark Docherty, Howard Bell, Matt Johnstone, David Feullaitre, (animation), Sam Meisels, Ben Perrott, Dave Griffiths, Arthur Broome, Dom Halford (compositing).

Bill Desowitz's picture

Bill Desowitz, former editor of VFXWorld, is currently the Crafts Editor of IndieWire.