Among the studio’s effects challenges was bringing to life
diorama room scenes where Roman, Mayan and Old West characters clash for
dominance of the museum hall. The
studio used Massive software on more than 30 shots in three major sequences
involving some 3,000 1/24th scale characters. Roman centurions and
archers, Mayan Indians, cowboys, Chinese railway workers, early settlers and a
Western band all take part in the action.
"We had a pretty short turnaround time on this project,
and after about four days of mo-cap we built the Massive agents and finished
over 30 shots - some with thousands of characters - in less than a month,”
explains Dan Smiczek, effects supervisor for Rhythm & Hues.
Three main agents were built, each referencing approximately
100 different custom motion-captured actions. Because of the small scale, motion capture did not have to
be as detailed as in previous projects, allowing for real-world behavior to be
achieved with fewer clips, each at longer running times.
"When we built the Massive models, we built them all in
the same size,” explains Smiczek. “This ended up being very practical when the
director wanted to make scene changes, such as swapping out a cowboy for a
Roman soldier - all we had to do was swap in a different skin. In addition to
having new characters thrown in, we ended up incorporating some of the hero
motion captured characters into our Massive sequences - and they integrated
seamlessly with the performance data that we captured specifically for Massive."
Rhythm & Hues’ pipeline includes a proprietary renderer,
Autodesk's Maya, Side Effects' Houdini and its in-house keyframe animation