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3dsMax in Motion Pictures

Jeepers Creepers

"Jeepers Creepers, a spookers film from Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope, made history with the biggest Labor Day opening in box office history. The film, written and directed by Victor Salva, is a story about a brother and sister who take a road trip the long way home via back roads on their spring break from college.

Copyright 2001 American Zoetrope

Digital effects facility E=mc2 was assigned 28 shots in the film, using a variety of digital tools, including 3ds max and Right Hemisphere's Deep Paint 3D to create a monster "Creeper" who flies around nabbing unsuspecting teens. The facility used Windows NT based workstations to create the 28 shots it was contractually assigned for Jeepers, although the facility uses other platforms on other projects. " The Windows NT platform is a far less expensive platform, per frame, and that plays a significant role when deciding how much render power can be had for any given budget," said Bob Morgenroth, VP and visual effects supervisor at E=mc2. The facility used a variety of software for Jeepers, including 3ds max r4, Right Hemisphere's Deep Paint 3D, and Adobe After Effects to complete the shots.

The original wing animation was created by Todd Perry of Max Ink Cafe using a beta version of Discreet's 3ds max r4, under the supervision of Buddy Gheen of E=mc2, Inc. Perry and Lucas Feld used Right Hemisphere's Deep Paint 3D to assign UV mapping coordinates and to paint seams between textures, Morgenroth said. Flex (a modifier in max that you assign to the mesh) was used to generate secondary motion in the membranes. Gheen used internally generated figures to simulate the creature and his victim to aid in placement of the animated wings, Tinderbox was used to create the sky, 3ds max to animate the creature in flight, and Adobe After Effects for final composites.

Copyright 2001 American Zoetrope

The facility's workstations are networked together via a high-bandwidth Cisco switcher, which Morgenroth says makes for a pretty elegant render farm. The facility also uses its office computers for rendering tasks on an as-needed basis. " Our office computers can be included in the render network when we need to squeeze every drop of processing power into a project," said Morgenroth. "For particularly long renders, we co-render at outside companies that we have already subcontracted, or with dedicated rendering services such as Screamline Rendering Services." E=mc2 took a collaborative approach for the 28 Jeepers shots.

The company was able to seamlessly work with Max Ink Cafe and freelance artists to create the shots. Morgenroth even flew Gheen, E=mc2 effects producer Scott Ramsey, Todd Perry, and others on the Jeepers Creepers set in Florida to collaborate on the shots. Said Perry, "Bob understands the need for the CG house to have hands-on communication with the film crew. . . he had things covered from a visual effects supervision perspective. But he knows better first hand that you just can't substitute a diagram and numbers on a piece of paper with actually being there next to the camera looking at the lighting setup. Not to mention the ability to hear first hand what the director has in his mind." "I was actually on set for the majority of the shooting, just to really have the contexts of each shot clearly in my head, said Morgenroth. "I am a true believer in having artists and specialists who will actually be working on the shots, have significant input into the shooting of the plates." "

Article from Digital Producer

3dsMax was used on 6 Shots - For more images & clips check the section on Max Inc Cafe


"You made extensive use of 3DS Max at Digital Dimension. Why use Max when you probably had the budget to go with Maya for example?

Our philosophy at Digital Dimension is to be very tool agnostic. Our artists have a lot of experience with MAX, so it's a logical choice as our central 3D application, but we ultimately use whatever tool we feel is best for the job. For Driven, MAX was excellent, because of its flexibility in key areas such as using a variety of renderers.


Copyright 2001 Warner Brothers

3DS Max has often been associated with low-end productions with limited budgets or for game development. It doesn't also have a very good reputation when it comes to rendering. Do you believe things have changed? Has 3DS Max simply matured, or is it that people just don't know what it is capable of?

I think that association is only made by people who haven't thoroughly evaluated MAX. For that matter, all of the major 3D applications are very capable production tools, and these tools are all rapidly evolving - including MAX which has made great strides in recent years. More importantly, I think the criteria that define what make a great 3D application have changed dramatically in the last couple of years. It used to be that individual features and the built-in renderer were the characteristics that set a given 3D application apart. But the 3D development community is quite large and mature now, and this really levels the playing field. Many developers are building their tools for multiple 3D applications to increase their marketability. Other tools are being developed completely separate from the 3D application. This is evident in the growing number of renderers available on the market - the majority of which are completely independent of a specific 3D app. Studios now need to be more concerned with an application's ability to integrate into an existing pipeline made of diverse tools, and how well it works in a production environment where many people need to work on a project in parallel. For example, with MAX we can use a wide array of renderers available on the market with relative ease. Again, the key is flexibility.

Perhaps you can talk about the rendering tools you used to achieve this level of hyperrealism?

We used a combination of Mental Ray and MAX's scanline renderer. For the look we were shooting for in Driven, we found we liked MR's surface shading, motion blur and soft shadows for the cars and MAX's shading for the particle systems such as the debris and smoke. "

Extract from an interview with Ben Gigard, founder of Digital Dimension, from an Article on CG Channel


Dr Dolittle 2

Copyright 2001 20th Century Fox

3ds max and SceneGenie came to the rescue to track 40 visual effects shots! Throughout the movie, effect artist Matt Merkovich (Catnap FX) had to track and model the faces of the animal cast.

Source: Frank DeLise

Copyright 2001 20th Century Fox


Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

3dsMax & Character Studio was used by Mill Film to add people to the shots of the model Ancient City.

In another shot the City had to be destroyed within a deadline of less than 3 weeks. Animation was done with 3dsMax with finalRender for the beams of light, Pyrocluster & Afterburn for explosion/dust elements. Thinking Particles & Particle Studio for debris with Phoenix used for the ring of flames & interactive lighting. There was also a geometry build & a crater element (not seen in the final cut unfortunately) created with Lightwave.

3D Credits: Evan Davies, Kieron Helsdon, Grant Hewlett, Jason Snyman, Gary Coulter, Ian Anderson, Caroline Garret, Robin Huffer, Steve Evans.

Quo Vadis

3dsMax was used by Platige Image for models, crowds & lighting etc on 30 shots. There was also some painting work in Photoshop, the shots were composed on Shake and Discreet's Inferno. Shots were tracked using RealViz, you can read more about the tracking on the Real Viz site here with some QuickTime examples.

Copyright 2001 Chronos Films

All material on this site is copyright. You have the right to view this page but you are not granted any other rights and the copyright owners reserve all other rights.