Image created:
England, Lots and lots of computers


Following Avatar, Digital Domain hired me to help bring in more character animation work. Through serendipitous timing we acquired the state-of-the-art Performance Capture stage, equipment, and crew from Image Movers Digital and started developing a next generation Virtual Production pipeline.Along with the exceptional talent at the Venice and Vanouver offices, I established a 60+ team in San Francisco and built a modernized set of virtual performance systems to create physically and behaviorally realistic digital characters. Implementation of these efforts was first successfully used in Jack The Giant Slayer.

As Supervisor on the show, I directed design of eight hero giants, a hundred extra giants, and CG animals such as pigs, horses, sheep and birds. The main giants included Fee, Fye, Foe, Fumm, Cooke, Sentry and General Fallon (two characters in one). There was also a lot of simulated FX animation work such as fire, water, explosions, waterfalls, mist, clouds and rain, and we had to create digital doubles on all the lead characters. The movie was shot in native stereo using Red Epics with 3Ality TS-5 3D rigs. Of course, we also included a large scale Virtual Production shoot for capturing the Giant performances.

A complex shot that combines an actor on an exterior set environment running 100 feet while a giant watches, chases him down, and then leans into an extreme close-up. We set up exterior optical motion capture cameras to track the markered live action camera-car rig so the camera operator could see an overlay of the giant animation and compose a 26 second shot with extreme scale differences. We first used this camera system technique on Avatar and call it Simulcam.

Another complex Simulcam shot where the action starts on a CG giant standing at a pond and then booms downward below the water surface to find Jack hiding. We shot the pond without water and added it as CG water above and below. The lamb is also CG and as it runs through the water and the giant grabs it, the water reactively churns and splashes. Just to make things more fun, we added CG rain to affect the water surface above and below, and also added CG hair to Jack's head to make it appear to float as if he's actually underwater.

For the sequence in Norwich Cathedral, we had to figure out how to compose plates for a 24 foot two-headed giant using Simulcam without the benefit of optical mocap cameras (not allowed!). We used a Super Technocrane fitted with inertial and accelerometer sensors that tracked camera motion and presented a precisely registered and synced real time overlay of Fallon animations moving with the live action camera. This gave the DP the freedom to move the camera anywhere and confidently compose shots with a 4:1 scale difference between  giants and humans.