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02/03/2001

SKARAMOOSH COMPLETE MAMMOTH CG PROJECT

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DIGITAL effects company Skaramoosh have created over 23 minutes of computer animation for Discovery’s flagship documentary ‘Land of the Mammoth’, a two-hour programme.
The project, involving in excess of 100 computer generated (CG) shots, took a core team of eight people four months to complete and includes the animation of not only mammoths but also a woolly rhino and a giant deer. A large amount of the project was completed in SOFTIMAGE|XSI version 1.0 and final stages in version 1.5.
Andrew Hunter, Digital Effects Director, Skaramoosh, said: “What excited us about this project was that we were involved in the entire production process for all the special effects shots, right from the storyboarding stage. This included the commissioning of a life size mammoth model for blue screen shoots, travelling to places as far apart as Siberia and America to film realistic backplates through to actually creating and animating all required 3D mammals and finally compositing all the shots. The backplates themselves could be made up from anything up to six different layers.”
The sequences were created to illustrate the life pattern of mammoths, where and how they lived and survived. Specifically created sequences include birth, mating, fighting and, finally, dying. There is also a sequence to illustrate what the mammoth evolutionary process was thought to have been.
The mammals were modelled in Softimage v3.9, animated using SOFTIMAGE|XSI and then brought back into Softimage v3.9 to render the fur. Once rendered the animation was taken into one of two compositing systems, Avid Illusion or Avid DS, to be composited with the backplates. Careful scheduling was required to avoid any compositing bottleneck.
‘Land of the Mammoth’ airs on the Discovery Channel on March 11. (GB)
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