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Imageworks Utilises Autodesk For 'Beowulf'

Autodesk has announced that Sony Pictures Imageworks used Autodesk Maya and Autodesk MotionBuilder software to shape hundreds of 3D animation and visual effects shots for Beowulf, director Robert Zemeckis’ new stereoscopic film.
With the help of Autodesk technology, Sony Pictures Imageworks has taken the worlds of performance capture and 3D stereoscopic imaging to an exciting new level in Beowulf.
Sony Pictures Imageworks and an onsite Autodesk Consulting team customised the Maya interface so that a wider range of stereoscopic controls could be manipulated through the software. This interface enabled the Beowulf team, including Zemeckis, to view and make real-time changes to the film. Sony Pictures Imageworks’ Buzz Hays, senior visual effects producer, said: “With Maya and the enhancements Autodesk’s Consulting team added to it, we had an interface that let us interactively adjust the stereo depth and layout of sequences in Beowulf. This provided a whole new level of artistic control. It was a critical step in delivering the best possible 3D experience to viewers.”
Over an intensive two-and-a-half years, more than 250 artists contributed to the creation of human and mythical characters portrayed in the film. The artists relied on Maya for all animation shots, while MotionBuilder was used for all motion editing and blending.
Corey Turner, Sony Pictures Imageworks’ technical animation supervisor, said: “MotionBuilder has been a part of our pipeline since we started doing performance capture. With every project we work on, we build on what we learned on the previous shows. On Beowulf, we pushed the system harder than ever before.” Turner explained that the MotionBuilder software’s capabilities were extended through near-time integration (NTI) and director’s layout (DLO)."
In order to give the lead character a realistic, non-cartoon-like physique, complex muscle systems were developed. The Autodesk Consulting team provided Sony Pictures Imageworks with custom features, interface extensions and on-site support services to aid in the implementation of production-based tools.
Kenn McDonald, animation supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks said: "All of our shots were set up in Maya. Beowulf has a habit of removing all his clothes when he fights. We were able to create elaborate, realistic musculature for him, giving him as much definition and sinew as we could without making him look like a bodybuilder."
Elaborate facial rigs were created to handle detail in the complex expressions of male, female and monster faces.
Robert Zemeckis’ Beowulf opened everywhere on 16 November 2007.
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