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Thinkbox Used For 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron' VFX

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From Loki's sceptre to the analytical android Vision, Marvel's 'Avengers: Age of Ultron', which was released in cinemas earlier this year, features several shots from Culver City-based VFX house Zoic Studios.

Led by CG VFX Supervisor Timothy Hanson, Zoic used Thinkbox Software's Krakatoa plug-in for Autodesk Maya to generate large quantities of particles created in the 3D animation software.

Designed and maintained by Mike Romey, Saker Klippsten and a team of engineers, Zoic's proprietary pipeline continues to evolve. The team brought Krakatoa for Maya into use as soon as it became available in 2013 and integrated it with Zoic's ZFB file management system in a similar way to other pipeline tools including The Foundry's NUKE, Side Effects Software's Houdini and Next Limit Technologies' RealFlow, among others.

"I'd always been a huge fan of the Krakatoa renders my 3ds Max counterparts produced and loved the beta release of Krakatoa for Maya, so when it became available, I was excited; it's a must-have for any VFX pipeline," explained Hanson. "Krakatoa is literally overflowing with benefits, from ease of use, to awesome features like the PRT Loader/Savers, not to mention the standard Krakatoa Particle rendering engine, which can handle loads of particles. It was especially useful for all of our work on 'Age of Ultron.'"

Hanson managed several dynamics shots for the film, including sequences featuring Loki's sceptre. Looking to create a wispy, ethereal energy that emanates from the sceptre, he utilised Krakatoa's Forced Additive Mode to deliver particles that glow, without reflecting or absorbing light. Hanson said: "I knew instantly that Krakatoa would be perfect for these scenes. I haven't seen anything else even come close to that smooth, smoky feel you get with Krakatoa in this mode."

For sequences featuring Vision, Hanson and team fused Vibranium – a rare, meteoric metal exclusive to the Marvel Universe – with the android's cellular structure. They simulated the effect using HYBRIDO fluid technology in RealFlow, with Krakatoa for particle rendering. "We did this viscous simulation for all of the sequences with Vision, and Krakatoa handled it like a champ every time. Almost all of my renders flew off the farm in no time, and the end result was exactly what we needed," Hanson added.


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