Since the release of the movie, it has been making waves for the usage of cutting edge technology and trying out something which has never been done in the field of filmmaking. Recently, it also bagged the award at the 89th Academy awards in the Best VFX category. We are talking about Jon Favreau’s ambitious project, The Jungle Book.
To bring this dream project to life, one of the major visual effects studio was roped in – Moving Picture Company (MPC). Since a major part of the movie was worked upon by MPC India , AnimationXpress got talking with MPC Bengaluru’s head of technology, Shajy Thomas, to gain insights on how the team created the movie’s stunning environments and characters and why working with MPC’s software team is one of the hottest jobs in India right now.
“Many of the 3D assets for the movie were built at MPC Bengaluru. Along with that the team also contributed to animation, tech animation, match move, roto prep, lighting and compositing . We also did an extensive reference shoot in India, in order to build an authentic Indian jungle. Our teams covered nearly 18,000 kms by road, and shot nearly 10 TB of data!” revealed Thomas about the work done by the Indian team. In those few months, over 400,000 photographs were taken across 10 states and 60 unique locations. The photography crew captured images of cliffs, boulders, rocks, trees, foliage, terrain, skies, and animals. Once they had this reference material, teams at MPC London and Bengaluru recreated each leaf, tree and rock as a 3D model.
Talking about the challenging parts, Thomas mentioned, “One of the most complex aspects of the project was the jungle itself. We had to build custom technology to ingest tree models from 3rd-party tools, layout the trees, rocks, plants and other objects, scatter vast quantities of small pebbles, leaves, twigs
and tiny things, combine simulation data from in-house and 3rd-party tech, manage per-shot LOD, culling and other overrides!”
Shere Khan was one of the most complex characters with tremendous detail in the model, different lengths of fur, super close-up shots, etc. The fur and muscle simulation was a big challenge for the team. Making the characters react realistically to a variety of environments and weather conditions was also
not easy. “In particular we had the challenge of Baloo rolling around in the river, with fur transitioning from dry to soaking wet to slowly drying. MPC’s character supervisor, Ben Jones and the team did an amazing job with the rigs and muscle sims for the animals. That itself would account for more than 200!”
To create the fully computer-generated photo realistic jungle environment, MPC’s Software team needed to develop and extend a variety of custom technologies. Placement of the terrain, trees, rocks and larger plants was accomplished using their in-house Model Hierarchy Manager. “For The Jungle Book,
we extended the tool to control per-shot overrides (level-of-detail, placement tweaks, visibility culling, etc) and improved its efficiency to handle the enormous volume of foliage being managed by the artists. For complementing the larger pieces of the set, we used a proprietary scatter tool to semi-procedurally distribute millions of pebbles, leaves and other small pieces of debris to enhance the sensation of the jungle being a single cohesive ecosystem. The tool was newly developed for this project, allowing
artists to create sophisticated shader-based rules which governed the scattering. Managing the complexity of 800+ people working globally on 1000+ shots, is where our custom pipeline development came into play.”
MPC works on the biggest Hollywood projects out there, each with one with a common challenge: to show the audience something they’ve never seen before and make it as believable as possible so that they are connected with the story that the filmmaker is telling. Producing a never-seen-before image naturally
implies new artist tools and workflows, and it is the job of the software team to help create them. “It’s exciting to be in an ever-changing environment where we’re constantly called upon to innovate, taking advantage of a strong global team of developers and a powerful software stack built up over the last 15 years. It was a huge honour to have our VFX supervisor, Adam Valdez and The Jungle Book
team recognised by The Academy with the VFX Oscar, this year,” beamed Thomas.
Having successfully delivered this project meant more bigger projects coming along the way for the team, for that MPC Bengaluru is building a software team of 100 which will be one of the largest in the VFX / animation industry globally.
“Yes, we see huge potential from India to contribute to software development and R&D for visual effects in movies. India has a variety of talent, which we surely should leverage upon, and open up fun and interesting career opportunities for the tech geeks and movie lovers! The Bengaluru team includes CG software, Core Engineering and Global software support, Python and C++ are the main language, but we also work on interesting technologies like Fabric Engine, 3rd party integration with Maya, Houdini, Nuke, Katana, PRMan, RV and various CG / VFX concepts. Lots of developers have come from different domains and they really enjoy the nature of the work here,” stated Thomas.
So if you are a software developer looking for a change in industry or want to take up a new challenge, or are already in film line, this is the perfect opportunity for you to work for one of the best studios in the globe!
You may check out the job details here: http://moving-picture.com/film/join-us/