Night watch. movie

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Timur Bekmambetov

Bazelevs production


VFX Producers:
Angela Petrosyan

Evgeny Barulin

CG artist:
Vyacheslav Bogdanov
Michael Bazhutkin
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Vyacheslav Bogdanov’s interview to CGTALK.RU

CGTALK.RU: Slava, what is "e;Ulitka"e; studio at present and how it has got to this project?
Vyacheslav: Our studio was created in 2003. During the yet long term of existence the studio basically worked on the advertizing market, specializing on manufacture of a three-dimensional graphics and animation. For a year we managed to generate a command of experts, to debug technological and creative process of production.
The offer to participate in production of effects for “Night watch” it seemed interesting to us. Good experience to test in other format and to show the possibilities as infrequently it is necessary to work with 3D and композингом in the film permission.
From the technical point of view, work on special effects for “Night watch” film wasn’t difficult. Many commercials with both art and from the technical point of view are much more difficult. However in this case work on combination of the generated image with real was very interesting so that the spectator hasn’t noticed “seams”. And also in the course of work we had ideas of purely creative character which found active support from the director – Timur Bekmambetov.
CGTALK.RU: On which scenes have you worked?
Vyacheslav: For Night watch we have made 4 scenes various in technology of 3D graphics, and also a quantity work on compositing.

1. Elevator departure.

Rather simple technologically, but laborious enough work was in scenes with a lift departure through a roof and splinters falling on the ground. Because of reasons of safety and for technical reasons it was impossible to make real explosion on set , also it was impossible to shoot the necessary panorama of city for the background. In this connection three-dimensional fragments - dust, smoke, roofing material pieces have been added. The main problem in this scene has been connected with combination big quantity of layers of three-dimensional stones and a smoke and compositing these layers with a filmed material. Thus for many of these layers there was a illumination that essentially complicated process of "gluing into" real picture. Besides, added smoke and large fragments both and other added elements have strengthened impression about capacity of explosion.

video: elevator departure

2. The stones turning to a ravens.

In the final plan of a roof scene, stones, falling from a roof, were turning into a ravens. It is difficult enough scene technologically. There should be a lot of ravens, they were close to the camera and, hence, should look naturally in movement. It was necessary to operate ravens as shoal. In the beginning one raven has been taught to turn from a stone to a bird, and then to fly. After that have forced all stones to repeat this trick by turns, beginning from the nearest.

video: ravens

3. The turning of Tiger cub.

In a scene of the turning of Tiger cub, it was necessary to transform a girl’s face into a muzzle of a tiger on a close up. As on Timur Bekmambetov’s idea in a film all effects should be very accurate and not distract the spectator from an event essence, he has offered the decision in which the human face isn’t transformed into an animal muzzle, and only gets color and the texture of a tiger. As a result we have repeated an exact copy of person Tiger cub and its mimicry. After that have grown up hair and have painted them with color of a tiger. Some shots have been made of this story, but only one has entered into final cut.

video: The turning of Tiger cub

Further Tiger cub flies to kitchen. In the beginning it was not clear how to make a jump and in what appearance girl should fly. We have offered the test with a real tiger form, and it was pleasant to Timur. As a result now “real” tiger jumps into the kitchen.

video: Tiger cub is jumping into kitchen

4. Turning Anton into a knight.

In one of scenes, Anton turns to the knight in an armor. Interesting that in the beginning the idea of transformation similar to transition by Tigrenka from a human image in the animal was considered. However, it strongly smelled slightly “hollywoodish” in bad sense of this word – the effect promised to be too deliberate and didn’t approach to style of a film. After long discussions was born very simple but as it seems to me, the stylish decision: to distract the spectator on behalf of Anton, and then imperceptibly to change it for the person in a helmet. The basic difficulty was to pick up a rhythm of change of the centers of attention that the spectator hasn’t noticed substitution.

video: turning Anton into a knight

CGTALK.RU: Slava, what has given to your studio in work on VFX in a film "Night watch"?
Vyacheslav: Experience with effects for Night watch has specified on those elements of technical process of studio which demand essential completion. In particular we have understood that available standard tools for work with arrays of characters at all don’t satisfy us in a kind of absence of necessary flexibility and setup of these tools, and also total absence of necessary qualities at rendering – for example, absence of greasing on movement at deformations (deformation motion blur). And also insufficient productivity at work with a considerable quantity of characters with difficult animation of movements. Also we have understood that available system for creation of fur and long hair in Maya not statisfy us, absence of due support for dynamics of fur, low productivity and the limited functionality (partly because of it in a scene with a tiger we didn’t make any fur). As a result after the finishing work we have made the plan on creation of necessary developing and now these tools are already finished and tested for studio. On the testing finish it will be possible to tell about it, as the turned out tools have considerably surpassed all our expectations in functionality.
CGTALK.RU: Scene with the elevator: what used for compositing in this scene? How created a smoke – it was real or CG? How many on the average left for render one shot in 2K in this scene?
Vyacheslav: Compositing of all the scenes we did in AfterEffects. In the first tests the smoke was completely atrifical, but then we have decided to try composeь available smoke futage with a digital smoke. A 2K scene were rendered, it is impossible to tell that, very slow. Have more slowly appeared, as it is strange, materials not with a three-dimensional drawing, and compositing itself as it contained many layers. In some variants all scene with lift explosion (only that passed directly on a roof – I don’t mean the bottom view on a roof and falling stones) was rendered about 8 hours in slow motion (150 frames per second).

CGTALK.RU: Tell more in detail about the program research, how many them for what each of them will be intended?
Vyacheslav: This is not simple question, strangely enough. For us developing process is step by step – I will try to explain what an essence. As a rule, fast enough decision is required for a specific target – the idea of software product at first is formulated, then the fastest decision (often the second is priority) is searched. Further, if we can use turned out tool still somewhere optimization process begins. I will try to explain on an example of the software product most used now by us - particle Instancer. Initially, when the scene with ravens became, we have understood that the standard tools which are available in Maya, don’t allow to receive necessary effects. In that Instancer for the particles, available in Maya+Renderman, didn’t allow to do deform Motion Blur, that is greasing at movement and deformations. As a result it turned out that ravens at flight are greased on movement, but after all they still wave wings, and it isn’t considered in standard tools in connection with their architecture. We managed to create at first own more simplified variant of instancer which solved this problem (in passing as it was found out, our product worked with other set of parameters which RenderMan instancer ignored in general) more correctly. As a result productivity has grown several times (tests even with the old version were carried out faster, than on standard products), and there were essentially new possibilities – we could create unique characters in our digital shoal, that is their shades were absolutely not similar between each other. Further we have altered internal architecture completely. Not only that we have copied not only Renderman part, but also have written in general own Maya instancer that has allowed with instancing system, based not only on particles but hair, to do absolutely not repeating movements for each element of flight(!) . Now we can realize such effects how for example to cover a bird with feathers, or a dragon scales, and so on. As a result of alteration of architecture not only speed has increased several times (in connection with transition with renderman archives – in advance prepared geometry which actually instansing, to dynamically created geometry – we actually create it now (it as that isn’t stored on disk) directly ahead of rendering). That is actually very narrow problem – to make it is realistic moving flight of birds, the product with huge possibilities – from generation of flights with absolutely unique behavior of each element of flight, before creation of foliage, feathers and various vegetation has turned out. Besides, other software products are now tested some – the system of long hair and fur which completely will replace similar Maya systems in particular is made.