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  • Rising Sun Pictures created over 150 shots for the movie Australia including animating the cattle for the drove.

    Baz Luhrmann’s Australia sweeps across the wild brush of the outback with all the romance and scope of a classic Hollywood epic.

    Starring Hugh Jackman as the Drover and Nicole Kidman as English aristocrat Sarah Ashley, the Twentieth Century Fox film stayed in-country to create its droving cattle and the port city of Darwin.

    Luhrmann tapped Rising Sun Pictures, based in Sydney and Adelaide, to create more than 150 shots for the film, including animating the cattle for the drove sequences using the facility’s in-house crowd system, Posse.

    CG Supervisor Carsten Kolve says that when Rising Sun started on the project 18 months ago, it evaluated all the crowd system options and stuck with Posse.

    “We basically decided the amount of work that it takes to integrate it into our pipeline might as well be spent investing into our own infrastructure and bringing that up to speed and then not having to deal with issues like high license costs,” he explains.

    Posse also was already tied into Venom, Rising Sun’s in-house 3D infrastructure. Venom’s ability to let visual effects artists create geometry as late as the render phase provided the kind of flexibility the project required, Kolve adds.

    “We’re dealing with just skeletons most of the time directly in Maya and then, when it comes to render time, we would actually bind the skeleton with the geometry applied the shader and render the complete individual cow or many of them on demand, which made the whole rendering process very efficient,” he says.

    Posse works with a concept called “crowd containers.” On Australia, for example, a library of crowd “building blocks” was assembled that includes rigs, shaders and deformers that would then be assembled and used to fill a 3D space.

    “It gave us faster turnaround in producing those shots and much more important it made it possible to uses reuse those building blocks in different shots over and over again or even in the same shot,” Kolve says.

    Work began with one main animator producing most of the cattle animations. For reference, Rising Sun shot some of the real cattle used on location in a studio with a bluescreen setup. Kolve says they shot the cattle trotting, stopping, cantering and milling about from a number of different angles to create the base reference for the animation.

    Control over all the elements was maintained through to the lighting stage. Kolve says the lighters would receive a complete assembly from the crowd TD that consisted solely of a huge cache of animated skeletons that gave the lighters complete control over variations in color, texture and placement.

    It also gave lighters the ability to change any element necessary, up to adding, altering, deleting or moving specific cattle from a shot. “We wouldn’t have to go all the way back to the simulation stage. The lighters could just pull out a particular cow,” says VFX Supervisor Kat Szuminska.

    Cows’ appearances were easily adjusted. Out on the desert, they were made to look skinnier and when times were good they were fattened up, according to Szuminska.

    That was quite useful on Australia, which pushed the limits of its schedule. Szuminska cites as an example a shot in which Kidman’s character looks across the river at the just-crossed herd. “They said: ‘We actually don’t want the cows on the other side of the bank anymore. Can we bring them on to this side?'” she says. Moving the cattle was less difficult than finding a way to make work their fur, which had been designed only for mid- and background shots.

    But solving that problem, the scene ended up evoking compliments from Luhrmann. “He said, ‘I don’t even remember having cows over there,’ which is about the highest compliment he can give,” Szuminska admits.

    Rising Sun’s digital cattle mixed frequently with real cattle, filling in scenes or extending them to the horizon, Kolve suggests. It also was a challenge to match the speed and placement of digital cattle with real cattle.

    “It was a massive job from the 2D side just to rotoscope out the shape of the real cattle so that we could put the CG cattle behind it,” says Kolve. “And then it would be a big task for the crowd team to integrate them speed wise and general animation wise.”

    Beyond the cattle, Rising Sun worked on nighttime camp sequences, expanding the sets to establish a sense of geography while also being flexible enough to accommodate changes Luhrmann would ask for on aesthetic grounds.

    (FRM AWN ARTICLE)

    Rising Sun Pictures created over 150 shots for the movie Australia including animating the cattle for the drove.

    Baz Luhrmann’s Australia sweeps across the wild brush of the outback with all the romance and scope of a classic Hollywood epic.

    Starring Hugh Jackman as the Drover and Nicole Kidman as English aristocrat Sarah Ashley, the Twentieth Century Fox film stayed in-country to create its droving cattle and the port city of Darwin.

    Luhrmann tapped Rising Sun Pictures, based in Sydney and Adelaide, to create more than 150 shots for the film, including animating the cattle for the drove sequences using the facility’s in-house crowd system, Posse.

    CG Supervisor Carsten Kolve says that when Rising Sun started on the project 18 months ago, it evaluated all the crowd system options and stuck with Posse.

    “We basically decided the amount of work that it takes to integrate it into our pipeline might as well be spent investing into our own infrastructure and bringing that up to speed and then not having to deal with issues like high license costs,” he explains.

    Posse also was already tied into Venom, Rising Sun’s in-house 3D infrastructure. Venom’s ability to let visual effects artists create geometry as late as the render phase provided the kind of flexibility the project required, Kolve adds.

    “We’re dealing with just skeletons most of the time directly in Maya and then, when it comes to render time, we would actually bind the skeleton with the geometry applied the shader and render the complete individual cow or many of them on demand, which made the whole rendering process very efficient,” he says.

    Posse works with a concept called “crowd containers.” On Australia, for example, a library of crowd “building blocks” was assembled that includes rigs, shaders and deformers that would then be assembled and used to fill a 3D space.

    “It gave us faster turnaround in producing those shots and much more important it made it possible to uses reuse those building blocks in different shots over and over again or even in the same shot,” Kolve says.

    Work began with one main animator producing most of the cattle animations. For reference, Rising Sun shot some of the real cattle used on location in a studio with a bluescreen setup. Kolve says they shot the cattle trotting, stopping, cantering and milling about from a number of different angles to create the base reference for the animation.

    Control over all the elements was maintained through to the lighting stage. Kolve says the lighters would receive a complete assembly from the crowd TD that consisted solely of a huge cache of animated skeletons that gave the lighters complete control over variations in color, texture and placement.

    It also gave lighters the ability to change any element necessary, up to adding, altering, deleting or moving specific cattle from a shot. “We wouldn’t have to go all the way back to the simulation stage. The lighters could just pull out a particular cow,” says VFX Supervisor Kat Szuminska.

    Cows’ appearances were easily adjusted. Out on the desert, they were made to look skinnier and when times were good they were fattened up, according to Szuminska.

    That was quite useful on Australia, which pushed the limits of its schedule. Szuminska cites as an example a shot in which Kidman’s character looks across the river at the just-crossed herd. “They said: ‘We actually don’t want the cows on the other side of the bank anymore. Can we bring them on to this side?'” she says. Moving the cattle was less difficult than finding a way to make work their fur, which had been designed only for mid- and background shots.

    But solving that problem, the scene ended up evoking compliments from Luhrmann. “He said, ‘I don’t even remember having cows over there,’ which is about the highest compliment he can give,” Szuminska admits.

    Rising Sun’s digital cattle mixed frequently with real cattle, filling in scenes or extending them to the horizon, Kolve suggests. It also was a challenge to match the speed and placement of digital cattle with real cattle.

    “It was a massive job from the 2D side just to rotoscope out the shape of the real cattle so that we could put the CG cattle behind it,” says Kolve. “And then it would be a big task for the crowd team to integrate them speed wise and general animation wise.”

    Beyond the cattle, Rising Sun worked on nighttime camp sequences, expanding the sets to establish a sense of geography while also being flexible enough to accommodate changes Luhrmann would ask for on aesthetic grounds.

    (FRM AWN ARTICLE)

    Credits & Crew
    Director:
    Baz Luhrmann
    VFX Producer:
    Diana Giorgiutti
    VFX Supervisor:
    Chris Godfrey James E. Price
    Rising Sun Pictures:
    Aaron Barlow Alex Meddick Amanda Pamela Anthony Menasse Belinda Allen Betty Shaw Bill Collis Bruno Mattarollo Campbell McGrouther Carsten Kolve Catherine Nelson Chris Jackson Christoph Sprenger Christophe Bernaud Dane Rapaport Daniel Thompson David Woodland Dylan Yeo Elizabeth Matthews Elsa Santos Eric So Francesco Pepe Gemma James Grant Everett Greg Shimp Huey Carroll Ian Cope James Whitlam Jennifer Basen Jessica Laszlo Johannes Saam John Allen Jonathon Batson Julian Scheid Kat Szuminska Katie Hecker Katrin Arndt Keith Herft Laura Ingram Les Turner Loren Robinson Luke Millar Marco Checa Garcia Mark Webb Martin Wiseman Matthew Landauer Miles Green Nicholas Murphy Nicholas Pill Nicholas Pitt-Owen Niki Bern Norah Mulroney Paris Downes Philip Whiteley Premamurti Paetsch Robert Dorris Rogier Fransen Ruth Wiegand Salima Needham Sarah McLauchlan Scott Baxter Sue King Tate Arbon Timothy Jones Tony Thorne Toshi Shiozawa Wesley Cilldhaire
    Director:
    Baz Luhrmann
    VFX Producer:
    Diana Giorgiutti
    VFX Supervisor:
    Chris Godfrey James E. Price
    Rising Sun Pictures:
    Aaron Barlow Alex Meddick Amanda Pamela Anthony Menasse Belinda Allen Betty Shaw Bill Collis Bruno Mattarollo Campbell McGrouther Carsten Kolve Catherine Nelson Chris Jackson Christoph Sprenger Christophe Bernaud Dane Rapaport Daniel Thompson David Woodland Dylan Yeo Elizabeth Matthews Elsa Santos Eric So Francesco Pepe Gemma James Grant Everett Greg Shimp Huey Carroll Ian Cope James Whitlam Jennifer Basen Jessica Laszlo Johannes Saam John Allen Jonathon Batson Julian Scheid Kat Szuminska Katie Hecker Katrin Arndt Keith Herft Laura Ingram Les Turner Loren Robinson Luke Millar Marco Checa Garcia Mark Webb Martin Wiseman Matthew Landauer Miles Green Nicholas Murphy Nicholas Pill Nicholas Pitt-Owen Niki Bern Norah Mulroney Paris Downes Philip Whiteley Premamurti Paetsch Robert Dorris Rogier Fransen Ruth Wiegand Salima Needham Sarah McLauchlan Scott Baxter Sue King Tate Arbon Timothy Jones Tony Thorne Toshi Shiozawa Wesley Cilldhaire

    Charlotte of 'Charlotte's Web' fame was featured on the cover of Cinefex in 2006.
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    Level 1, 180 Pulteney Street Adelaide, South Australia 5000 Australia

    +61 8 8400 6400 vfxinfo@rsp.com.au

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    +61 8 8400 6400 vfxinfo@rsp.com.au

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