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Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers

Transformers News: Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers

Friday, July 8th, 2011 12:27AM CDT

Category: Movie News
Posted by: LOST Cybertronian   Views: 44,737

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The Hollywood Reporter has published an interesting article about the visual effects of Dark Of The Moon and 5 things you should know. This is for those of you interested in the numbers and effort that goes into your favorite shots. They talk about the driller and how it was seven times more complicated than Optimus Prime and how the driller tearing up a Chicago skyscraper was one of the most complex visual effect ILM has overseen. ILM's Scott Farrar explains the five things you should know and throws a little secret sauce in the mix.

1. The Driller consists of 70,051 parts. By contrast, Optimus Prime, the head Autobot, has just 10,108 parts. Due to the complexity of the Driller, and the fact that he lays waste to a skyscraper, only a few artists working with ILM's most powerful desktop machines were able to load the shots where the machine takes on the building. And they sometimes waited nearly an hour for the files to load.


2. Massive computing power was needed so that the Driller could destroy the skyscraper: Rendering is the process of calculating the information in a CG file for final video output -- essentially by turning numbers into images. It took a staggering 288 hours per frame to render the Driller along with the photoreal CG building that includes all those reflections in its glass.


3. Stereo 3D added to the complexity. At the time of the live-action shoot, choices were made about the interocular distance, which is the distance between the centers of the lenses of the two cameras. “We take the same information,” Farrar said. “We copy that exactly.” ILM rendered a left eye, then a right eye image. The VFX team viewed the shot in 3D, then refined and repeated as needed.


4. For a last push on the final weekend of work, ILM’s entire render farm was used for Transformers 3. ILM calculates that that added up to more than 200,000 rendering hours per day -- or the equivalent of 22.8 years of render time in a 24-hour period.


5. A final injection of “Secret Sauce” was used to improve the theatrical experience. Because some 3D movies look dark or soft when projected, Farrar said, “We did make sure things are as bright as possible; Michael (Bay) called up theater owners to make sure they keep the lamps bright in the theaters.” Plus, he added, “We also added a kind of secret sauce to make everything a little sharper, because we know that through the steps, no matter what, when you get to the final screening things tend to go less sharp.”


The article can be viewed here.
Credit(s): The Hollywood Reporter
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Re: Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers (1254754)
Posted by radgravimus on July 8th, 2011 @ 12:46am CDT
That's frickin' AMAZING! "secret sauce" nice.
Re: Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers (1254757)
Posted by BIGGUY007 on July 8th, 2011 @ 12:50am CDT
HOLY COW!!! That's impressive.

:BOT: :shock: :BANG_HEAD: 8-} :BOOM: :-B :APPLAUSE: :CON:
Re: Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers (1254787)
Posted by Treetop Maximus on July 8th, 2011 @ 1:47am CDT
Wow! Thanks for sharing this. I thought there was always a computer out there that could do this kind of stuff really fast, but I guess technology hasn't come as far as I thought. :BANG_HEAD:
Re: Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers (1254792)
Posted by all_the_primes on July 8th, 2011 @ 1:52am CDT
:shock: ............:APPLAUSE: nuff said.
Re: Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers (1254797)
Posted by First-Aid on July 8th, 2011 @ 2:03am CDT
Having just seen the movie for the 3rd time (in 3D all times), I have to say that ILM did an exceptional job. I have always hated 3D...even back to the original red/cyan 3D that was popular for a brief time in the mid 1980's. However, this movie- whether or not you like it- has Oscar-caliber 3D effects. I have never seen the like. I want to extend my sincerest and most heartfelt congratulations and thanks to the good folks at ILM for all of their work to make this a top-notch product. They are truly the best in the business by a generous margin. Well done, lads! Well done indeed!
Re: Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers (1254849)
Posted by Cyberion on July 8th, 2011 @ 5:16am CDT
I want to know what workstations they used. I'm sure no one will cough that info up, but I'd LOVE to know what the hardware, OS, and Apps were used to accomplish this. :BOT:
Re: Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers (1254873)
Posted by guarayakha on July 8th, 2011 @ 7:14am CDT
First-Aid wrote:Having just seen the movie for the 3rd time (in 3D all times), I have to say that ILM did an exceptional job. I have always hated 3D...even back to the original red/cyan 3D that was popular for a brief time in the mid 1980's. However, this movie- whether or not you like it- has Oscar-caliber 3D effects. I have never seen the like. I want to extend my sincerest and most heartfelt congratulations and thanks to the good folks at ILM for all of their work to make this a top-notch product. They are truly the best in the business by a generous margin. Well done, lads! Well done indeed!


Agreed. Even if the story is crap, there's no denying that the 3d and SFX were top-notch, and just plain crazy. There's just so much going on in a shot, yet you can still make out the tiny details in it.
Re: Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers (1254897)
Posted by Cyberion on July 8th, 2011 @ 8:41am CDT
Is there even another special effects shop out there who does this sort of thing? Every TV show or movie that has any special effects that I've seen, had ILM as the effects shop listed. Clearly with this film, the ramped it up to a level I don't think anyone can match.
Re: Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers (1254946)
Posted by NatsumeRyu on July 8th, 2011 @ 10:27am CDT
Cyber_Tek wrote:I want to know what workstations they used. I'm sure no one will cough that info up, but I'd LOVE to know what the hardware, OS, and Apps were used to accomplish this. :BOT:

I know they used Maya for the first two films, so I assume they used it for DoTM as well.
And as a general rule, 3D apps don't like Macs, so you can pretty much rule that out. When the discs are released with special features, we can scout the videos for any shots of their computer screens and recognize some stuff from there.

Also, I didn't stay to look, but usually if a certain company provides workstations for the project, they're in the credits (like HP, which seems to be pretty popular for 3D workstations for some reason).

As for specific hardware...yeah, I'm sure you'd be hardpressed to find all of that right off the bat somewhere. Anyone know anyone who worked on DoTM? LOL. Or ask these interviewers to see if they can pry the info from ILM. heheh.
Re: Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers (1254968)
Posted by GetRightRobot on July 8th, 2011 @ 10:55am CDT
NatsumeRyu wrote:I know they used Maya for the first two films, so I assume they used it for DoTM as well.

Yes they used a combination of 3d Studio Max and Maya mixed with particle illusions and probally 12 other programs for texture mapping/lens and lighting effects. Compilation was most likely After Effects.

NatsumeRyu wrote:And as a general rule, 3D apps don't like Macs, so you can pretty much rule that out. When the discs are released with special features, we can scout the videos for any shots of their computer screens and recognize some stuff from there.


Silicon graphic workstations built on a enhanced GMac platform running OS 10. Some linux based platforms are used as well in the render farm machines. When I was in school for computer animation, we used exclusively GMac 5's. They work wonderfully for 3d.

I'm certain every software and hardware manufacturer could be found somewhere in their process. The rendering time is unbelievable! The ability to render so much in a day is just f-ing impressive! ILM can do things that hurt my head to think about! :lol:
OUTSTANDING :APPLAUSE:
Re: Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers (1255049)
Posted by Alec on July 8th, 2011 @ 12:39pm CDT
All I can say is WOW!
Re: Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers (1255067)
Posted by YRQRM0 on July 8th, 2011 @ 1:14pm CDT
That's amazing. It takes my computer 22 hours to render a 1 minute video just because I add some film grain effects...I can only imagine how fast those computers are.
Re: Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers (1255101)
Posted by GetRightRobot on July 8th, 2011 @ 2:03pm CDT
YRQRM0 wrote:That's amazing. It takes my computer 22 hours to render a 1 minute video just because I add some film grain effects...I can only imagine how fast those computers are.


Dude I feel ya! Im pushing a pretty tough machine 10 gigs of ddr3 and a pair of Radeons and when I get into multiple layers (god forbid a camera and lights) in Adobe After Effects, I wait days on a 5 minute AMV! I don't even attempt full HD renderings!!! What I need is one of them there render farms. Yep... MmmHmmm...
Re: Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers (1255104)
Posted by Cyberion on July 8th, 2011 @ 2:07pm CDT
That's what I'm talkin about. A RENDER FARM!!! Thank Goodness I don't need that kind of processing power to record, mix, and master my music...
Re: Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers (1255195)
Posted by Road-hole on July 8th, 2011 @ 4:42pm CDT
I wonder how the Driller compares to Devastator in terms of complexity. It seems like Driller woulda been way more difficult due to the way it interacted with the skyscraper.
Re: Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers (1255236)
Posted by GetRightRobot on July 8th, 2011 @ 6:30pm CDT
Cyber_Tek wrote:That's what I'm talkin about. A RENDER FARM!!! Thank Goodness I don't need that kind of processing power to record, mix, and master my music...


Are you a Pro Tools user? Cause that program with enough layers can eat up some system resources too!
Re: Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers (1255238)
Posted by Cyberion on July 8th, 2011 @ 6:39pm CDT
Yes in fact I am a Pro Tools user. Recently upgraded to MP 9. The 4GB of Ram, Core 2 Duo 2.3GHz and multiple HDD's render my tunes smooth and quickly. I don't do a lot of layers since the music is straight up head banger metal. I typically do two rhythm guitar tracks, one bass track, perhaps a dual lead, a guitar solo, and the drum machine programming. I mix and master it myself and get the job done quickly and efficiently. Only thing missing is ARCEE on the microphone to sing for me. ;-)
Re: Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers (1255240)
Posted by GetRightRobot on July 8th, 2011 @ 6:43pm CDT
Cyber_Tek wrote:Yes in fact I am a Pro Tools user. Recently upgraded to MP 9. The 4GB of Ram, Core 2 Duo 2.3GHz and multiple HDD's render my tunes smooth and quickly. I don't do a lot of layers since the music is straight up head banger metal. I typically do two rhythm guitar tracks, one bass track, perhaps a dual lead, a guitar solo, and the drum machine programming. It I mix and master it myself and get the job done quickly and efficiently. Only thing missing is ARCEE on the microphone to sing for me. ;-)


Cool. Sounds like you are very talented. Do you use Fruity Loops or something similar to build your beats with or are there superior programs to FL now?
Re: Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers (1255257)
Posted by Cyberion on July 8th, 2011 @ 7:16pm CDT
I use a program called "Beatcraft" that allows me to custom design a drum kit to my needs piece by piece, program the beats, and sequence them from the beginning of the song to the end, all without leaving Beatcraft. Write the lyrics too. The only thing I can't do is sing. For that, I seek an attractive female singer with dynamic vocal range. The mix of my tunes with her voice will be something different than what normally happens in my genre (Metal). I think my tunes would fit a Transformer movie very well,since we're dealing with "Heavy Metal" here. ;-)
Re: Dark Of The Moon's Visual Effects By The Numbers (1255339)
Posted by amtm on July 8th, 2011 @ 10:56pm CDT
It took a staggering 288 hours per frame to render the Driller along with the photoreal CG building that includes all those reflections in its glass.


So that means they wasted 228 hours of the budget for every frame of a giant CG tentacle that never belonged in the movie in the first place. Glad to hear our money was well spent.

My favorite part was when it was destroyed, because then I knew I didn't have to watch it anymore.