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12/04/2002

Framestore's cutting edge effects for 'Blade 2'

UK cinema-goers across will have been enjoying Framestore CFC's work on the film 'Blade 2'.
The blockbuster film features over 180 of Framestore CFC's effects shots, including 90 computer generated 3D shots featuring some effects for the numerous vampire deaths that occur throughout the film. In addition, three lengthy sequences were graded at Framestore CFC using the company's Digital Lab facility. In total, over 25 minutes of 'Blade 2' screentime features work created or processed by Framestore CFC.
Attending the Prague shoot were three Framestore CFC project supervisors, Rob Duncan, Justin Martin, and Dominic Parker, whose collective expertise covered both the 2D and 3D elements of the project. Such joint supervision is essential when the work so closely combines elements from several fields and by coincidence Nick Brooks, the production's own Visual Effects Supervisor was also an alumnus of Framestore CFC.
Of the numerous 2D shots created for 'Blade 2' – split-screens, varispeeds, wire removal and the like – were several that demanded specialist skills and care. In one shot, Nomak, a Reaper, reveals one of his breed's peculiar talents when he causes a bullet wound to his head to heal itself. An elegant 2D solution to this ostensibly 3D problem was found using the software tool After Effects. For the dramatic and moving climax to the movie, when Blade carries his stricken lover, Nyssa, on to a rooftop helipad as dawn is about to break, Del Toro wanted to create the illusion of real time passing. Through a series of nine shots, cool blue tones give way to a warmer, brighter light, as the world lights up around the couple. Using Shake and Inferno, and working closely with Director of Photography Gabriel Beristain, compositor Jonathan Fawkner assembled the elements that give this scene enormous beauty and poignancy.
Framestore CFC's most striking effects in 'Blade 2' are the many vampire deaths that occur throughout the movie. The chief architects of the solutions to this were Justin Martin, Louis Dunlevy and Rangi Sutton.
They first created a pipeline through which the various shots could be fed and dealt with. Utilising Maya, Houdini and Renderman software, the pipeline was flexible enough to cope with a wide range of model, fire and particle problems. Houdini's open-ended nature, in particular, proved invaluable, as the team wrote their own plug-ins for it to deal with the many and varied demands made on them by the shots.
Framestore CFC, www.framestore-cfc.com
(GMcG)
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