Parallel Universe Brought to Life with AI-Based Animation Software
Los Angeles, CA (December 10, 2007) â€” Massive Software announced today that visual effects company Rhythm & Hues used Massive, the autonomous agent 3D animation software, on over 50 shots for the highly anticipated feature film from New Line Cinema, â€œThe Golden Compass.â€? The film stars Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Dakota Blue Richards and Ben Walker, and went into wide release in the U.S. on December 7.
An adaptation of the award-winning novel by Philip Pullman, â€œThe Golden Compassâ€? follows 12-year-old Lyra Belacqua (Richards) on a dimension-crossing odyssey that builds from a mere children’s adventure into a complex philosophical epic. Accompanied by a talking daemon, or animal alter ego, Lyra travels through a CG-dominated universe populated with mystical creatures both good and evil on her quest to rescue her kidnapped friend Roger (Walker). During her journey, Lyra meets up with a tribe of seafaring Gyptians, a mysterious witch, a talking polar bear, a sharp-shooting Texan aeronaut and more, culminating with a climactic battle in the snows of the icy north.
Rhythm & Hues used Massive to create a multitude of animal characters to help populate the parallel universe inside â€œThe Golden Compass,â€? including many of the daemons accompanying each of the human characters. Placing anywhere from four or five to between 20 and 40 separate animal characters into 52 different shots, Rhythm & Hues used Massive in conjunction with Voodoo, their proprietary in-house 3D animation and rigging software.
â€œIn the past weâ€™ve used Massive for large crowds made up of thousands of agents, but this project was unique in that we were functioning almost as supplemental animation for the film,â€? commented Rhythm & Hues Massive Animation Supervisor Mark Welser. â€œInstead of just dropping a crowd into the background, we needed to specifically place characters to fill in action and cover spots the production team didnâ€™t have the time or manpower to handle. We were placing and steering CG daemons in and around and behind the live action and hero animation and the trick was to have all various elements work together seamlessly.â€?
With Massive already firmly entrenched inside the facilityâ€™s pipeline, Rhythm & Hues was able to concentrate on using the placement capabilities within Massive to drop individual characters and small groups just where they were needed. Rhythm & Hues was also able to utilize flow fields and other tools inside Massive to steer characters around additional scene elements using actions keyframed by animators at its Los Angeles and India facilities.
â€œIn terms of sheer numbers, â€˜The Golden Compassâ€™ had much fewer Massive agents than, say, â€˜Evan Almighty,â€™ but that doesnâ€™t mean it was simpler,â€? Welser continued. â€œWhen you place a large crowd, you have the luxury of letting agents do what they are programmed to do, but with smaller numbers, placements become far more obvious and need to interact with hero elements much more effectively. So even though there is less Massive, what is there is more critically exposed, making it essential that the paths they travel be more specific and intricate.â€?
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About Rhythm & Hues
Rhythm & Hues is one of the worldâ€™s leading producers of quality character animation and visual effects for entertainment and advertising. The studio has produced effects and animation for more than one hundred movies, including â€œBabe,â€? which earned the Oscar in 1995 for Achievement in Visual Effects. Rhythm & Hues was nominated in the same category in 2005 for its work on â€œThe Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe.â€? Recently released projects include â€œEvan Almightyâ€? and â€œThe Kingdom,â€? as well as â€œThe Golden Compass.â€? For more information, visit
Academy Award-winning Massive is the revolutionary 3D animation system that incorporates procedural animation and artificial intelligence. Massive is used by animation and visual effects artists to explore the new world of creative opportunities that AI-enabled characters make possible.
Agents are 3D characters that have a fuzzy logic AI â€œbrainâ€? and the natural senses of sight, sound and touch which enables them to interpret and react autonomously to the world around them. Agents can be just about any character you can imagine from humanoids, birds, animals and insects to inanimate objects such as cars.
The intuitive interface of Massive allows artists to interactively control and direct agents providing highly realistic, directable and emotive performances.
About Massive Software
Massive Software is the leading creator of artificial intelligence-based 3D animation systems. Massive was founded when Stephen Regelous programmed a unique piece of software for director Peter Jackson to make creation of complicated visual effects scenes involving hundreds of thousands of digital characters a practical reality. Regelous garnered a Scientific and Engineering Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2004.
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