Will Shepherd talks about his latest project, “Green Lantern” and how Cebas tools “proved invaluable… working on the ‘2012’, ‘Alice in Wonderland’, and ‘Green Lantern’ features.”
Green Lantern - Official Movie Trailer (HD)
A CG Supervisor at Spatial Harmonics Group – SHG, Will Shepherd has spent 18 years working with the 3D Studio product line. He has also worked in games, commercials, episodic television and features using 3Ds Max and related plug-ins, providing him with a well- diversified background in the graphic design industry.
cebas: It seems that this was an important and major project for you and your firm. How did you get involved?
We were approached by Pixomondo LA to provide a 2-week test for the Green Lantern feature. The job required FX fluids and particles systems that they felt were outside of their current staff. We did and test and got them excited enough to hand us the FX for the entire 8 shot sequence.
cebas: Which shots/images/sequences in particular were you involved in?
The sequence we produced for Green Lantern were the FX involved in the “guardians” describing how Parallax become evil in the past by ingesting the “fear” energy.
cebas: What cebas software did you use and why?
We use thinkingParticles almost exclusively for all our particle FX work. Its node-based structure gives us the freedom to move in many different directions. Keeping up with a director’s desires requires that kind of freedom. In addition thinkingParticles’ interoperability with other MAX plug-ins such as Fume and Krakatoa ensures we can utilize it as a core system to generate various styles of FX.
cebas: What other software did you use?
Fume, Krakatoa and Real Flow were also used in the sequence.
cebas: How did you use cebas software to achieve your effects?
We utilized thinkingParticles coupled with Krakatoa to push forward an FX Previz that would enable us to begin locking down FX styles. We knew that getting the director something to start making real comments on needed to happen very early so the creative process would be in full swing by our second month of production. It worked well, and thinkingParticles served as our core tool for massaging the initial look and feel of the FX.
SHG's work using thinkingParticles
cebas: What features helped you do this and how?
thinkingParticles ability to produce millions of particles quickly through Krakatoa helped us achieve interesting results very quickly which in the end helped “front load” the production and avoid painful changes and delays later on in the production. Again, thinkingParticles’ ability to import .bin files and quickly generate systems based on other plug-ins/programs helped us get a secure footing on the production. The importance of this cannot be overstated, and thinkingParticles was key to this.
cebas: What was the most difficult aspect of this project and how did you solve it?
As with most “non-practical” FX projects, the most difficult aspect is actually getting something the director really likes. This requires allot of FX pre-visualization, and that is a time consuming process which requires systems that are quickly modified and altered to follow the creative process. We used thinkingParticles to front-load the project with Previz that really helped get the director making decisions, and the creative process underway.
cebas: What was a step-by-step breakdown of a typical shot/image/sequence?
Typically an FX job like this begins with concept art. FX Previz is created from the concept art and is shown to ensure the job is awarded. At that point very basic cameras and stand-in geometry is provided, and the FX begin to be generated in-camera. Then FX are refined in-line with new geometry, animation and camera elements.These elements grow together for most of the life of the project, until the very end when FX are rendered from final cameras and geometry.
cebas: How did the cebas tools perform for you and what was the experience of working with them like?
thinkingParticles performed well under the pressure of an FX-heavy stereoscopic feature film, and we intend to continue making it our choice in the future.
cebas: How did it compare to other software you may have used?
thinkingParticles is the only node-based solution for 3dsMax particle systems, other particles systems cannot compare to its open architecture.
cebas: How did Cebas software integrate into your production pipeline? How straightforward was it?
thinkingParticles integrates well with our pipeline, and was in place before the project started.
cebas: What was the most fun or rewarding part of this project for you?
The most fun of a 6-months FX project for me is usually right after the project is awarded and before anything is locked down. It’s here where you can do the most creative work, and you actually have a moment to be a true artist before the production begins to weigh heavy on your shoulders. The most rewarding time is final delivery. Nothing beats delivering a job well done on time.
cebas: What do you wish Cebas software did that it's not currently doing for you?
I’m looking forward to the new simulation elements in thinkingParticles 5, and also would like to see thinkingParticles further interconnecting with other MAX plug-ins and 3rd party software.
cebas: What new projects can we expect from you in the future?
We are looking forward to using thinkingParticles in our next feature, which will include catastrophic dynamics!
Click Here to learn more about Spatial Harmonics Group – SHG
Thank you Will for sharing with cebas team and its community your knowledge and experience, it was fun letting us in on some of what goes on behind the scenes!
Cebas readers and members are more than welcome to post any comments, suggestions and/or artwork. Our online Gallery is looking amazing already, all thanks to you!