Last night (Nov. 8, 2006), 300 director Zack Snyder introduced 30 minutes of footage for his upcoming feature based on Frank Millers graphic novel about the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C.
Set for release March 9, 2007, by Warner Bros., there was plenty of gory battle footage screened along with the opening 10 minutes that set up the epic struggle between Greece and Persia, which helped usher in the worlds first democracy. Gerard Butler plays Spartan King Leonidas, Lena Headley plays his Queen Gorgo and Rodrigo Santoro plays Persian King Xerxes.
In keeping with Millers work, pale colors predominate with lots of bright reds. Overall, its an operatic ballet of death shot mostly against bluescreen in a Montreal warehouse to create forced perspective, augmented with CG animals, a hunchback and an eerie eye.
An early animatic test of a battle shot on greenscreen was done as a proof of concept for Warner Bros. Animal Logic is the main vendor with support from, among others, Pixel Magic, Screaming Death Monkey, Meteor, Hybride and Hydraulx, with simulated water for battle scenes supplied by Scanlines Flowline system.
This was hard on the visual effects guys, Snyder admits. We had to make it look like a painting, and thats different from what theyre used to. Grant Freckelton, the visual effects art director we got from Animal Logic, created a vast stylebook for coffee stained skies and rock and everything else. Chris Watts, our visual effects supervisor, needed it to be organic because its so technical. It looks more like a drawing and I think all the murder and mayhem pays off.
For his part, Miller is very pleased with what hes seen so far: To get the feel of a living drawing, CG is a good tool. The pure watercolor effect in motion was amazing.