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Maxon helping Academy Awards nominees

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MAXON Computer, a leading developer of professional 3D modeling, painting, animation and rendering solutions, today congratulates customers that have been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Visual Effects Society with award nominations for groundbreaking visual effects and animated sequences

MAXON Computer, a leading developer of professional 3D modeling, painting, animation and rendering solutions, today congratulates customers that have been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Visual Effects Society with award nominations for groundbreaking visual effects and animated sequences. From the painted textures of CG aliens inDistrict 9; to a colorful palette of exterior environments with tasty foods falling from the sky in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs; to matte paintings depicting the destruction of major cities in 2012, creative teams at Sony Pictures Imageworks, Crazy Horse Effects, Image Engine and Uncharted Territory used MAXON‘s CINEMA 4D and BodyPaint 3D to bring characters, backgrounds and environments to life in many of 2009’s top visual effects-intensive and animated feature films.

The 8th Annual VES Awards will take place on February 28, 2010 in Los Angeles. The Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2009 will be televised on Sunday, March 7, 2010.

“We’re thrilled again this year to see our customers recognized at the highest levels for creative excellence in digital filmmaking,” said Paul Babb, president, MAXON USA. “This year’s nominees pushed the boundaries of 3D technology to new heights delighting audiences with both fantastic and realistic effects. We deeply appreciate their reliance on our professional 3D animation toolset to achieve these well-deserved milestones.”

District 9 – Image Engine
The creative team at Vancouver-based Image Engine created 311 of the 600 visual effects shots in the sci-fi thriller District 9, including a community of entirely CG aliens that inhabit a section of Soweto, South Africa, as well as the alien mother ship, digital helicopters and digital troop carriers. Using BodyPaint 3D, Image Engine painted complex textures that blended dirt, dust, paint and stickers that cover the aliens’ bodies (there were hundreds in all) giving each a distinctive, insect-inspired look that seamlessly integrated with the characters in the gritty South African ghetto setting.

“BodyPaint 3D was a necessity when it came to creating the physical characteristics and believable emotions of the aliens,” said James Stewart, Image Engine’s creature supervisor. “In addition to developing custom shaders to layer the creatures’ bodies with dust and dirt, we eventually came up with a library of 20 different variations of these embellishments that could be used interchangeably on any alien saving a lot of time in the workflow process.”

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs – Sony Pictures Imageworks
For Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Academy Award®-winning visual effects and animation studio Sony Pictures Imageworks (SPI) used MAXON’s CINEMA 4D and BodyPaint 3D to create every exterior environment in the film including 360-degree skies, hillsides and town extensions, often requiring the review of sequences that at times had roughly 50-75 matte painting shots. For the acclaimed “Burger Rain” sequence where CG burgers fall out of the sky, artists created three, 360-degree sky environmental maps that were UV mapped within CINEMA 4D to accurately place the sequence color key for lighting and reflection purposes. The acclaimed Projection Man matte painting system found in CINEMA 4D was also used by SPI to simplify and streamline the workflow.

“Not only did we paint three different skies, but we also extended the FX clouds, animated them and then projected those rendered frames onto geometry that matched it to the FX Clouds in 3D space, for stereo,” said Dave Bleich, matte paint lead, Sony Pictures Imageworks. “CINEMA 4D helped us get through challenging sequences that required a lot of planning and much needed flexibility. It’s a ‘must have’ app in the matte painter’s toolkit.”

2012 – Uncharted Territory, Sony Pictures Imageworks and Crazy Horse Effects
Texture and matte painters from several post production studios relied on MAXON’s CINEMA 4D and BodyPaint 3D to contribute visual effects on director Roland Emmerich’s apocalyptic film 2012, including Uncharted Territory, Sony Pictures Imageworks and Crazy Horse Effects.

Uncharted Territory
The matte painting team assembled at Uncharted Territory for 2012, supervised by Ivo Horvat, relied on CINEMA 4D – from planning and pre-visualization to matte painting, animation, modeling, camera projection and rendering – to depict the destruction of Los Angeles and Las Vegas as well as other key locales in the film. In all, Uncharted Territory contributed 422 shots to 2012’s total of 1,315, including 100 in the Las Vegas sequence and 120 in the Los Angeles sequence, along with green screen and compositing work.

“CINEMA 4D played an important role throughout post production to meet the ever-present need to create scenes that could bridge the gap seamlessly between all of the different filmmaking techniques and technologies that were being used (there were 14 outside post production facilities contributing effects to the film),” Horvat said. “It was also instrumental in helping us achieve brutally accurate continuity with each shot and angle to fit the edit, drama and physical layout of each sequence.”

Sony Pictures Imageworks
Using BodyPaint 3D and CINEMA 4D, the Sony Pictures Imageworks team overcame complex texturing and matte painting challenges in 2012 to create the arks – massive industrial cruise ships.

Tom Quach, texture painter, Sony Pictures Imageworks explained, “Because the arks in 2012 were so large it would have taken hundreds of 4K maps to cover the entire thing. With our limited post production schedule we noticed that BodyPaint 3D was capable of handling 8K maps. Using the larger maps was a time-saving solution allowing us to work more quickly and efficiently.”

Crazy Horse Effects
While 2012 is populated with scenes of destruction, time in the film is spent on the survivors’ struggles in the aftermath of the cataclysm unleashed around the world. Steve Messing, a matte painter at Crazy Horse Effects, transformed footage of a distant set shot in Kamloops, British Columbia that included approximately five dilapidated huts on a short stretch of dirt, into a sprawling, military-style refugee camp near the Himalayan mountains that looks as if it goes on forever.

“We’ve enjoyed using CINEMA 4D for several years. CINEMA 4D’s projection system is powerful and efficient and lets me see textures in real time,” said Messing. “With so much parallax involved in 2012 we knew we have to rely upon a 3D application to convey detail and depth-of-field.”