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'SNAKES ON A PLANE': CAFEFX SERVES AS LEAD VFX HOUSE

August 23, 2006
'SNAKES ON A PLANE': CAFEFX SERVES AS LEAD VFX HOUSE

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The studio began preproduction planning in the Spring of 2005 and completed their work in mid-June 2006.

CafeFX crafted hundreds of snakes, including a 17-foot python, Kong; a gaboon viper, Scarface; an iridescent Boelens  python; an eyelash viper; and a red moccasin.  Many were composites of several species.

CG lead Gabriel Vargas explains:  "We put a great deal of effort into integrating the snakes into the scenes as fully as possible. There were so many subtle nuances to contend with.  Take Scarface, the gaboon viper.  He had lots of very spiky scales, which had to be individually modeled -you had to see the detail in the shadows.

Vargas modeled, textured, rendered, layered, composited and animated Scarface for the dramatic cockpit attack on the female lead, played by Julianna Margulies.  "The scene was 14 long shots," he recalls. "The first shot was something like 600 frames, and some scenes had up to 30 layers.  It was pretty tedious going."

Montreal-based Hybride Technologies, with whom CafeFX had previously teamed on Sin City, the Spy Kids series and The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D, was also charged with creating many shots featuring different types of snakes. 

"CafeFX and Hybride had a kind of natural competition going," says the film's VFX supervisor, Erik Henry.  "Neither company wanted to be one-upped by the other. But it was all in good fun. Everyone was the better for it and the film was too."


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