Tag Archives: Jerome Chen

Creating CG wildlife for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

If you are familiar with the original Jumanji film from 1995 — about a board game that brings its game jungle, complete with animals and the boy it trapped decades earlier, into the present day — you know how important creatures are to the story. In this new version of the film, the game traps four teens inside its video game jungle, where they struggle to survive among the many creatures, while trying to beat the game.

For Columbia Pictures’ current sequel, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Montreal-based visual effects house Rodeo FX was called on to create 96 shots, including some of the film’s wildlife. The film stars Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black and Kevin Hart.

“Director Jake Kasdan wanted the creatures to feel cursed, so our team held back from making them too realistic,” explains Rodeo FX VFX supervisor Alexandre Lafortune. “The hippo is a great example of a creature that would have appeared scary if we had made it look real, so we made it bigger and faster and changed the pink flesh in its mouth to black. These changes make the hippo fit in with the comedy.”

The studio’s shots for the film feature a range of creatures, as well as matte paintings and environments. Rodeo FX worked alongside the film’s VFX supervisor, Jerome Chen, to deliver the director’s vision for the star-studded film.

“It was a pleasure to collaborate with Rodeo FX on this film,” says Chen. “I relied on Alexandre Lafortune and his team to help us with sequences requiring full conceptualization and execution from start to finish.”

Chen entrusted Rodeo FX with the hippo and other key creatures, including the black mamba snake that engages Bethany, played by Jack Black, in a staring contest. The snake was created by Rodeo FX based on a puppet used on set by the actors. Rodeo FX used a 3D scan of the prop and brought it to life in CG, making key adjustments to its appearance, including coloring and mouth shape. The VFX studio also delivered shots of a scorpion, crocodile, a tarantula and a centipede that complement the tone of the film’s villain.

In terms of tools, “We used Maya and Houdini — mainly for water effects — as 3D tools, Zbrush for modeling and Nuke for compositing,” reports Lafortune. “Arnold renderer was used for 3D renders, such as lighting and shading shaders.”

Additional Rodeo FX’s creature work can be seen in IT, The Legend of Tarzan and Paddington 2.

Sony Pictures Post, Imageworks, Colorworks lend hand for ‘Spider-Man 2’

The visual effects, sound and post teams from Sony Pictures Entertainment teamed up on the post production workflow for Columbia Pictures’ The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Sony Pictures Imageworks provided over 1,000 visual effects shots, Sony Pictures Post Production provided sound, in its first project in Dolby Atmos, and Colorworks performed film scanning, conforming and color grading all in 4K. An innovative workflow provided the teams with unprecedented access to data associated with the production, enabling them to work together in close and simultaneous collaboration. The result was improved efficiency and a more spectacular cinematic experience for audiences around the world.

“Our groups have developed a close, creative partnership, aided by remarkable new technologies that allowed them to work across disciplines as one team,” said Randy Lake, EVP/GM, Digital Production Services. “The results are clearly evident in The Amazing Spider-Man 2,  which established new standards for technical innovation.”

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Working with senior visual effects supervisor Jerome Chen, Sony Pictures Imageworks created a variety of visual effects that blend seamlessly with live-action stunts and performances. Artists created three new villains — Electro, Rhino and Goblin — and developed fully-digital CG environments representing New York’s Times Square, Manhattan skyscrapers, a next generation hydroelectric plant and an art deco-era clock tower among many other one-off effects seen throughout the film.

The film’s sound team was led by sound supervisors/designers Addison Teague and Eric Norris, and re-recording mixers Paul Massey and David Giammarco. Working in the newly-renovated William Holden Theater on the Sony Pictures Entertainment lot, Massey and Giammarco mixed the soundtrack natively in Dolby Atmos and finished in Atmos, Auro and 5.1 formats, a combination that has never been done before. They used a Harrison MPC4D console with Xrange engine.

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At Colorworks, film dailies — amounting to more than 1.5 million feet of 35mm film — were scanned to 4K digital format prior to editorial. The film later returned to Colorworks for conforming, final color grading (in 4K) and mastering in 2D and stereo 3D.

Collaboration between the teams was facilitated by Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Production Backbone, the studio’s shared storage environment. Original production elements, along with associated metadata — cumulatively amounting to more than 2.4 Petabytes — were stored on the backbone’s shared-storage environment where it was accessible to sound and picture editors, visual effects artists and others, as needed and in appropriate file formats. The backbone also simplified delivery of elements to external visual effects vendors, who were able to access the backbone through secure, high-speed connections.

“Scanning all of the original film elements at 4K allowed us to work at the highest quality and implement a true digital workflow to the production,” explained Bill Baggelaar, Senior VP of Technology for Colorworks and Post Production. “That saved significant time. The backbone not only provided access to data, it also tracked progress. If an editor or a visual effects artist made a change, it was quickly available to all the other members of the team, increasingly important for quick turn around on a dynamic film like The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”