Interviews MPC News The Nutcracker and the Four Realms VFX Supervisor



Max Wooden started his profession in visible results in 2003 at MPC. He works on movies like WATCHMEN, ROBIN HOOD, WORLD WAR Z and 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE. As a VFX supervisor, he took care of the consequences of movies reminiscent of SAN ANDREAS, ZOOLANDER 2 and SUICIDE SQUAD.

What’s your background?
I went to Bournemouth College Nationwide Centre for Pc Animation and did my diploma in Pc Animation and Visualisation. I then labored for a small animation firm referred to as Tandem Movies in London earlier than shifting to MPC the place I began as a matchmove artist. Subsequent I progressed to modeling, a bit of texturing and rigging, grooming, lookdev and lighting after which turned CG supervisor, adopted by DFX supervisor after which VFX supervisor. I’ve been at MPC for over 15 years now.

How did you become involved on this present?
MPC put my identify ahead to Disney and after a few telephone calls I used to be requested to be manufacturing aspect VFX Supervisor.

How was the collaboration with administrators Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston?
Working with each administrators was nice. They’ve very totally different backgrounds with VFX however have been each very open to the strategies wanted for producing a VFX heavy film.

What have been their approaches and expectations concerning the visible results?
Each have been very eager on the combination of the fantasy world and photorealism. Not just for the incredible worlds that we have been constructing but in addition for the characters. Joe was particularly eager on preserving every part based mostly on actuality and physics; we all the time made positive that we had actual world references to seek advice from when speaking about any of the VFX.

How did you’re employed with VFX Supervisor Richard Clegg?
I particularly requested for Richard Clegg to be the interior VFX Supervisor at MPC, as I knew his work and thought this was the right present for him! He has an amazing eye for element and is aware of the place to put the significance and artist time in a shot.

How did you arrange the work together with your VFX Producer?
Initially of the present we knew that we needed to separate the present between two distributors. The apparent cut up was the Victorian London scenes and the fantasy scenes contained in the 4 Realms. We knew that Rodeo FX are nice with environments and so we needed them to do the large opening shot flying over Victorian London and down the frozen River Thames. MPC took on the work contained in the 4 Realms, on account of their implausible digital doubles, environments, creatures and FX. In the direction of the top of the present, we would have liked to increase to extra distributors to assist with the extra footage photographs and to reinforce the ballet sequence. Because of the movement graphics wanted for enhancing the ballet, we acquired a number of movement graphics specialists to do some checks. Joe Johnston was notably impressed with Considered one of Us they usually did a tremendous job on the sequence. For the extra footage we impressed by Luma Footage’s reel and after speaking with them, we gave them a variety of photographs together with the VFX heavy photographs inside realms of snow and sweets.

How did you cut up the work amongst the MPC workplaces?
MPC has a department-based construction and so it wasn’t a case of some scenes to go to at least one workplace and different scenes to go to a different. All the prep and matchmove is completed in Bangalore, the belongings are created in each London and Bangalore. Nearly all of shot work was executed in Montreal and compositing was cut up between London and Bangalore.

What are the sequences made by MPC?
MPC labored on round 1000 of the 1150 photographs within the film.

The most important of that are:

  • Clara enters the Christmas tree forest and meets Mouserinks.
  • Clara being chased by the Mouse king.
  • All exterior photographs of the palace, waterfalls and large photographs of the realms.
  • The scenes contained in the engine room.
  • Clara and Sugarplum contained in the Clockroom.
  • All photographs of Mouserinks, the Polichinelles, Motherginger’s Marionette and the Tin troopers

Many, many extra sequences…

The film opens with an extended shot flying over London. How did you strategy a shot like that?
This specific shot was achieved by Rodeo. It began off a single line within the script flying over the Royal Albert Corridor and right down to the frozen Thames. As we began the previs, it was apparent that the trail didn’t present sufficient of London and its landmarks. The Royal Albert Corridor can also be a great distance from the Thames and so we had plenty of time flying over rooftops. We realised it wasn’t working and switched our shot to beginning over the frozen Thames, down Westminster bridge and over Massive Ben. It began with only a sketch of the cameras path over a map of London. Subsequent we did a primary digital camera transfer in Maya with easy geometry; it already labored a lot better than our makes an attempt on the Royal Albert Corridor. We used Google maps to take a look at which areas we might see on our route. We shortly realised that we have been very fortunate that almost all the buildings from 1890 are nonetheless standing, little or no had modified. It was essential at this stage that we locked the trail of the digital camera down, in order that nothing might change so we made positive that we had approval from the filmmakers. As we solely had one shot on this location it was straightforward to find out the extent of element required for every constructing and prop. We then despatched out a images group who took reference photographs from the streets and a ship, once more taking probably the most photographs the place we would have liked probably the most element. We have been now in an amazing place to work up the construct, adopted by the gang after which the ultimate look.

How did you populate and the animate the crowds on the street?
Virtually all the crowd work was movement seize, together with the ice skaters and guys driving the carriages. The ice skaters have been particularly enjoyable to seize as we had grownup and youngsters on roller-skates.

Clara discovers an exquisite citadel. What references and indications did you obtain for it?
We acquired an enormous package deal of paintings for the entire film from the manufacturing aspect artwork division. I additionally had many conferences with Man Hendrix Dyas, the manufacturing designer. Each the paintings and dialog have been massively useful. I shortly acquired an ideal sense of the fantasy world that Man was imagining. Even throughout post-production I might typically speak to Man to be sure that we have been nonetheless on the best path, I might present him renders of the palace and fortunately he all the time appeared very proud of what we have been doing!

Are you able to clarify intimately about its creation and the large setting?
One of many largest challenges was producing all the Kingdom consisting of 4 realms with their very own distinctive cities and vegetation, the palace, large waterfalls, rivers and background mountains. We see all of those parts in single photographs and so we would have liked to have the ability to render all of it collectively. Constructing all the things to be as optimised as potential was important to make rendering potential. We took benefit of PRMAN’s nice bump mapping, displacement and instancing to realize this. We cut up the world into small modules. We additionally did somewhat little bit of customized improvement on prime of our in home Asset Administration instruments to deal with the massive dataset and permit artists to work effectively in parallel and share forwards and backwards simply.  

The citadel is surrounded by water. How did you deal with this FX simulation?
We used three totally different approaches for the water. For the rivers within the vast photographs they have been cut up in 12 totally different sectors (every one a easy geoPlane). On every sector we used a Houdini setup to create a grid of vectors that might outline the velocity and path of the water stream. These vectors have been then used to drive some displacement. The variation of size (velocity) between one vector and the encompassing vectors would assist us to seek out when the water velocity abruptly cease to generate white water with Houdini particles. On some photographs even additional away white water was only a texture. Within the shut ups, the water simulations have been totally created utilizing Houdini flip solver, with the addition of particle and volumes for the splashes and the white water. The large waterfall photographs have been achieved utilizing Houdini particles emitted instantly from our procedural river. We additionally added Bifrost volumes on the base of the waterfalls

The mouse turns into a very huge type of hundreds of mice. How did you design and create this large form?
The Mouse King is the identify given to the monster that varieties out of piles of mice. He’s constructed from roughly sixty thousand mice. It was essential to the Administrators that his type and form might change over time. It shouldn’t appear to be a hard and fast type with mice on prime (a person in a go well with). Because of this we would have liked to make a really versatile rig that the animators had plenty of management over scaling and proportions for all of the limbs, in addition to tweaker controls that allowed them to alter the mass and construction of the Mouse King. The animated base type was a polygon mannequin, which we then ran material simulations on to assist give the bottom a fluid feeling with a way of mass and weight. After this, we ran curves over the floor of the mesh that acted as information paths for the mice. Utilizing these information paths, we simulated crowds of mice crawling, including variation to their paths to keep away from one another. We additionally had a number of mice that may fall off as a rag doll simulation. As soon as they hit the bottom they might instantly leap again up and run in the direction of the Mouse King to hitch again in. 

Sugar Plum creates a full military of tin troopers. Might you clarify intimately about their creation?
We had artwork division idea work that gave us the base design and color scheme for the troopers. We then collected references of classic tin troopers with easy joints that influenced the ultimate outcome. They wanted to have some primary rivet-joints to keep away from squashing and stretching once they moved, one thing that tin clearly wouldn’t do. We put loads of consideration into the joints and design to maintain them easy, but in addition allowed sufficient flexibility of their efficiency.

Are you able to inform us extra about their shaders and textures?
So as to add just a little bit of variation to the troopers, we launched chips to their paintwork the place that they had been broken once they have been toys. The shaders dealt with this procedurally at render time. We modulated between a mixture of painted chips with procedural noise to provide all of the troopers in any shot their very own distinctive chipped paint sample. 

How was simulate their presence on set for the interactions in the course of the last sequence?
For any photographs the place we would have liked the Tin Troopers to work together with our actors we took an strategy the place we rehearsed the motion with stunt performers (in blue fits) appearing because the Tin Troopers, they might then push or seize the actors because the script described. The blue suited guys additionally wore a tool on their head with a marker simulating the right eye peak of the 7 foot tall Tin Troopers, permitting the actors to have an accurate eyeline.

As soon as we have been proud of the motion, we might do a take together with the blue suited stunt performers. We might additionally do a take with the actor performing with no stunt performer, however remembering the choreographed strikes. We might all the time shoot a clear plate with no stunt performers or actors in order that we will paint out (take away) the blue guys. This gave us the pliability for the editorial workforce to see which take was transfer convincing.

Mom Ginger has an enormous construction representing her. Are you able to clarify intimately about its creation?
Mom Ginger’s Marionette began as idea artwork from the manufacturing artwork division. A 40 ft excessive and 30 ft vast sensible mannequin with a rotating skirt was constructed for utilizing on stage; it was utilized in a couple of photographs with the thought of visible results augmenting arms, pistons and a shifting mouth. Throughout postproduction, her design was modified in order that she doesn’t have pistons however cogs and she or he has a steam punk really feel, with steam leaking from her joints and chimneystacks in her hair. Within the VFX photographs, her skirt was simulated in Houdini and this gave us nice element and adaptability for the interplay with the bottom and the Tin Troopers.

How did you handle the problem of the photographs the place the tin troopers assault the Mom Ginger construction?
This sequence was probably the most difficult and certainly one of my favourites, particularly in 3D! A military of Tin Troopers assault Mom Ginger’s large marionette. The sequence got here up comparatively late in postproduction. It’s a sophisticated absolutely CG sequence that Joe Johnston did nice story boards for, we then moved it into previs in a short time and over to MPC to finish. MPC needed to provide you with a way to deal with shut up photographs of tin-soldiers climbing over the enormous marionette and one another with out intersections. There have been additionally lots of rag-doll dynamics when the marionette hit the Tin Troopers. They created superior mixing instruments to mix from between animated clips and dynamic simulations. Additionally they used this to have the ability to mix walks into climbs that tailored to the shifting floor. This manner, they might not solely get the clips to adapt extra precisely to the setting but in addition infuse variation into the clips themselves. One of the difficult moments is because the Tin Troopers climb the large rotating circus tent skirt. First, the skirt is simulated, ignoring any Tin Troopers, after which the troopers are crowd simulated to climb the skirt, completely ignoring any penetration between the soldier and skirt. Lastly a material refinement move is added to the skirt to take away the penetrations. The skirt is now driving the troopers movement however the troopers additionally work together with the skirt. A barely difficult workflow nevertheless it gave nice outcomes.

Are you able to inform us the way you select the numerous VFX distributors?
Every vendor has it’s personal specific skillset. MPC produces superb landscapes, creatures, digital doubles and FX work, they usually’re a powerhouse who can end up plenty of photographs. We knew that Rodeo do nice environments and so needed them to do the opening to the film. Luma are nice all rounders and we knew that we might give them plenty of several types of work. We went with Considered one of Us for his or her expertise with movement graphics.

Are you able to inform us what number of distributors contributed to the venture and what their work consisted of?
MPC dealt with round 85% of the visible results, they did most environments and all the character work. Rodeo did the 1 minute lengthy opening shot of the film, flying over a totally CG London, additionally they did some Victorian London plate augmentation and another inexperienced display compositing photographs. Luma dealt with the photographs contained in the Land of Sweets and the Land of Snow plus set augmentation and inexperienced display compositing. Certainly one of Us took care of the movement graphics seen within the Ballet sequence and the top titles.

Are you able to inform us extra about your collaboration with their VFX supervisors?
I had an amazing expertise with the whole vendor VFX Supes. Being Based mostly in New York meant that we sat between all the time zones and so we might area out our calls to go well with the distributors time zones. I’ve recognized Richard Clegg for a very long time and so there was already good bond, he knew what I favored and I knew that he might ship it. Martin Lipmann, Rodeo’s VFX supe, got here out to New York to satisfy with me and we visited his workplace a number of occasions throughout publish manufacturing, we obtained on very nicely and even outdoors of our common evaluations we might e mail or converse on the telephone to debate totally different points of the photographs.

The distributors are all all over the world. How did you proceed to comply with their work?
Dailies have been submitted in a single day by every vendor, I might evaluate them within the morning and ship written suggestions, something the place I felt that wanted additional dialogue or the place the seller had questions we might put into both a cinesync or tvips session that night. We all the time tried to ship suggestions with 24 hours of receiving a every day.

Is there one thing particular that provides you some actually brief nights?
Throughout submit I used to be surprisingly relaxed as I had complete confidence within the groups I used to be working with. The brief nights have been throughout manufacturing, once we have been capturing. I needed to make it possible for we actually have been getting the most effective plates and absolute best knowledge for submit manufacturing.

What’s your greatest reminiscence on this present?
Aside from finalising the final shot and the unimaginable work that we achieved as a workforce, I might say that I actually loved the comradery on set, working with stands-bys, grips, the lighting and costume division and extra – it actually felt like a workforce effort the place everybody needed the very best for the film.

How lengthy have you ever labored on this present?
I labored on it for two years and three months.

What’s the VFX photographs rely?
1150, 1000 of which have been completed at MPC, the rest cut up between Rodeo, Luma and One in every of Us.

What was the dimensions of your group?
In complete, between all the VFX amenities, we had over 500 artists and members of manufacturing.

What’s your subsequent undertaking?
It hasn’t been introduced but ?

What are the 4 films that gave you the eagerness for cinema?
As an adolescent I discovered my love of cinema and sometimes snuck into the cinema to see movies that have been technically a bit too previous for me. The films are all from a really comparable time and are nonetheless a few of my favourites… JURASSIC PARK, TERMINATOR 2, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and HEAT.

An enormous thanks in your time.


MPC: Devoted web page about THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS on MPC web site.

© Vincent Frei – The Artwork of VFX – 2018

About the author