Creative COW SIGN IN :: SPONSORS :: ADVERTISING :: ABOUT US :: CONTACT US :: FAQ
Creative COW's LinkedIn GroupCreative COW's Facebook PageCreative COW on TwitterCreative COW's Google+ PageCreative COW on YouTube
LIBRARY:TutorialsVideo TutorialsReviewsInterviewsEditorialsFeaturesBusinessAuthorsRSS Feed

Zombies Brought to Life For Warm Bodies

COW Library : Art of the Edit : Debra Kaufman : Zombies Brought to Life For Warm Bodies
Share on Facebook
CreativeCOW presents Zombies Brought to Life For Warm Bodies -- Art of the Edit Editorial


Santa Monica California USA

©2013 CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.


VFX company LOOK Effects ramped up a studio in Vancouver and created a new pipeline for character animation, to produce 85 shots of the Boneys - the most decayed, menacing zombies - in Warm Bodies, the new zom-rom-com based on the book of the same name. In addition to character animation, the company created a CG fly-through of a wasted city, blending with live action plates at each end of the sequence.



NICHOLAS HOULT stars in WARM BODIES. Ph: Jonathan Wenk. © 2011 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.
NICHOLAS HOULT as "R", the zombie who finds love.
Fans of the book Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (about a romance between a human and a zombie) are thrilled that director Jonathan Levine (50-50) brought this romantic comedy with a zombie lead to the screen. The zom-rom-com blends two popular genres, and features visual effects facility LOOK Effects' first-ever character animation among a total of 350 VFX shots.

How Levine found LOOK Effects is a classic Hollywood story. Levine, who shares an agent with director Darren Aronofsky, was impressed by the effects in Black Swan, which were done by LOOK Effects. One call to his agent got him connected to LOOK Effects visual effects supervisor Dan Schrecker.

"Jonathan contacted me and we hit it off," says Schreker. "Picking LOOK Effects was a leap of faith on his part, as well as on the part of the studio, because we hadn't done creature work. But I think he was confident we could get it done based on our track record."

Director JONATHAN LEVINE on the set of WARM BODIES. Photo by Jan Thijs. © 2011 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.
Director JONATHAN LEVINE on the set of WARM BODIES. Photo by Jan Thijs
Another twist in awarding the job to LOOK Effects was that it would have to ramp up its presence in Vancouver to the status of an operating facility. "We had a shingle in Vancouver, with space and the key people in place," says Schreker. "Mat Krentz, our digital effects supervisor went there from New York to open the facility and he made it all happen."

According to Krentz, LOOK Effects' Vancouver studio opened in November 2011, right about when the film finished shooting. "I was working with LOOK Effects in New York when they landed the Warm Bodies project," he says. "I was happy to be headed back to where I grew up to get things up and running."

Krentz says the first step was to break down the project to know how much work they'd need to accomplish in the time frame, and then hire key positions to overlook the creature work in particular. Producer Brenda Ilic also filled in some of the open positions, to reach a total of 45 artists.

Look Effects VFX supervisor Dan Schrecker
Look Effects VFX supervisor
Dan Schrecker
The characters to be animated were the "boneys," zombies that have decayed to the point of being near-skeletons. "At some point, their skin peels off," Krentz explains. "We were going for a beef jerky feel to it." The 85 Boney shots varied from one Boney in frame to a crowd of 50. "We were given concept art, 2D drawings from production of what the Boneys would look like, as a basic idea," says Krentz. "Then Jelmer Boskma, our lead modeler, created six unique models of the Boneys based on the concept art, to get the look of them down. The variations included different textures and proportions."

When it came to animating the Boneys' jerky erratic movements, originally, LOOK Effects went with motion capture but quickly realized the results weren't working. "It looked strange and unique," says Krentz. "But once we put that motion on the Boneys, they weren't very scary looking. It made them feel weak. The jerkiness of the movement on top of a skeleton looked too pronounced."

Look Effects Digital Effects supervisor Mat Krentz
Look Effects Digital Effects supervisor Mat Krentz
They switched to keyframe animation, where they could make the Boneys move in a way that was strong, precise and menacing. "The animation always made the Boneys look like they had strength -- not like they could be easily pushed over," says Krentz. "Although motion capture gets you to a certain point really quickly, as soon as we realized it wasn't going to work -- which we realized very quickly -- we had to start over from scratch. We caught up right away, versus spending months and months trying to get the mocap to work. Because we identified it quickly, we didn't get delayed."

The animation team relied on Z-Brush for modeling, Autodesk Maya for animation, and The Foundry's Nuke for compositing and Mari for texturing. "We paid a lot of attention to the pipeline," he adds. "We tried to minimize repetitive tasks that take artists away from working on their art, such as having to wait to upload the latest version." Mark Stewart and Ren-wei Yang, a couple of TDs, focused on creating tools for the pipeline that talked to Shotgun, LOOK Effects' asset manager, and automatically downloaded the right shots and know where to save them.

Krentz also made sure that the pipeline incorporated numerous tools that enabled animators to do shortcuts and work in a streamlined fashion. "We made sure everyone had easy access to the latest version of the tools," he says. "If an animator started on a brand new shot, he'd click a button and it would import the latest camera angle; he wouldn't have to search for it. Same thing with lighters. If they were working on a shot, they didn't have to scan through directories but would get the latest camera and animation, all built. People didn't have to worry about the technical side of things because it was all set up for them."



The experience of creating the Boneys has now pushed LOOK Effects into the new realm of creature work - and they're excited about that.

ROB CORDDRY
Left, ROB CORDDRY in his zombie-with-a-heart role drives into some Boneys. Middle, NICHOLAS HOULT and TERESA PALMER as R and Julie prepare to fight. Photos by Jonathan Wenk. Right, TERESA PALMER and JOHN MALKOVICH as Julie and Grigio (her father).


Boneys seek to devour zombies and humans alike. Click to enlarge.
Warm Bodies boneys


The experience of creating the Boneys has now pushed LOOK Effects into a new realm of potential work. "Now we do creature work, and we're ready and excited to do it again," says Schreker. "You learn so much when you do it, and usually it's the same lesson: figure out some things early in the process, as much as you can and get a jump on it. We also had a great team that was experienced with character animation and everyone was able to roll with the changes that came at us from external forces."

The Boneys were just part of the visual effects that LOOK Effects contributed to Warm Bodies. Halfway through production, the company was assigned an unexpected shot: a full CG city. "It had two live-action plates on either end, flying in and out of our environment," says Krentz. "It starts off with the regular zombies walking through the city, then the camera pushes through a reflection into this city. The director wanted an establishing shot showing key places throughout the city and wanted to show how far away the zombies were to the "Green Zone" where the people were. The CG camera flies up along a street, above the wall and into the human encampment. We created the full city and wall and connected these two live action plates to the CG city environment."


Because the movie was not supposed to take place in Montreal, LOOK Effects very roughly based their CG city on it.




The movie was shot in Montreal, and on the set, LOOK Effects' team took lots of reference photography, placing them on CG in a kind of photogrammetry effect. "Then made sure our CG camera matched the camera used on set and smoothed in that transition," says Krentz. "We re-projected those buildings on the plate, so we could have that seamless connection."






Because the movie was not supposed to take place in Montreal, LOOK Effects very roughly based their CG city on it. "It was up to our discretion," says Krentz. "We had certain elements that represented real live city blocks so we knew our scale would be like a real city, but we changed buildings for locations. We built everything up from scratch and made everything rather run-down. We had garbage littered throughout the city, broken streetlights and signs, abandoned storefronts. We put vehicles mashed together -- whatever we could do to give life to this abandoned city with zombies wandering around."

One of the elements of the city is used throughout the movie: the wall that surrounds the human encampment. "There were a few scenes that showed how large it was, with patrols on the top of the wall," says Krentz. "There are a couple of scenes where there was an actual half-wall that was built, and we digitally extended it to fill in the gaps. But for a lot of other shots, we built the entire thing from CG."



There were a few scenes that showed how large the wall was, with patrols on the top. Below, scenes from the airport.



Warm Bodies was one that relied heavily on remote viewing with cineSync. After production finished in Montreal, the director Levine was in Los Angeles, visual effects supervisor Schreker was in New York, and the LOOK Effects facility was in Vancouver. "Jonathan and sometimes his editor Nancy Richardson, visual effects producer Tom Ford, visual effects editor Shannon Olds would all get on to cineSync to review shots," he says. "At the end, when we did the DI at Technicolor, I went into a DI suite here and we looked at the same finaling shots via SimulView. That was great; we were able to work together and we were never in the same place."


(L to R) ROB CORDDRY and NICHOLAS HOULT star in WARM BODIES. Photo by: Jonathan Wenk. © 2011 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved. NICHOLAS HOULT stars in WARM BODIES. Photo by: Jonathan Wenk.  ©2012 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved
Above left: "R" (who can't remember his name) holds a Polaroid of Julie. Above right: "R" and zombie friends finding their way back to humanity and beating hearts.

Having established the Vancouver facility to handle Warm Bodies, Schreker notes there's something to be said for starting from scratch. "Bringing in new people with fresh ideas let us get into new things when we needed to and not get stuck in old ideas, and especially a show this size with creature work," he says. In the meantime, LOOK Effects has also opened an office in Stuttgart, Germany, to work on The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson's next movie, while the New York office is busy with Aronofsky's Noah.

Tip of the hat to LOOK Effects, a mid-sized visual effects company that has managed to stay open and apparently healthy in tough times in the industry. In the current environment that favors the few big companies and the smallest mom-and-pop shops, it's the mid-sized facilities that have been closing their doors with disturbing frequency. Schreker himself pointed to Pixomondo as a mid-sized company with a similar modus operandi: keeping the facility technologically nimble and opening up new locations whenever necessary to serve a big project.

Adding character animation to its toolset has increased the number and kind of projects that LOOK Effects can handle. Although the model it uses to stay in the black is too statistically small to prove a trend, the company may just be onto a way for mid-sized companies to survive in the 21st Century.




Above, Boneys scramble towards the human encampment. Below, face to face with a Boney; Zombie-Boney fighting; Crashing through glass. Click images to enlarge.
Warm Bodies boneys





Jonathan Levine: Director JONATHAN LEVINE on the set of WARM BODIES. Photo by: Jan Thijs. ©2012 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.

Evolution: NICHOLAS HOULT stars in WARM BODIES. Photo by: Jonathan Wenk. © 2011 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.

Citywalk Zombies: NICHOLAS HOULT stars in WARM BODIES. Photo by: Jonathan Wenk. © 2012 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.

Polaroid: (L to R) ROB CORDDRY and NICHOLAS HOULT star in WARM BODIES. Photo by: Jonathan Wenk. © 2011 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.

Zombie Driver: ROB CORDDRY stars in WARM BODIES. Photo by: Jonathan Wenk. ©2011 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.

Preparing to fight: NICHOLAS HOULT and TERESA PALMER star in WARM BODIES. Photo by: Jonathan Wenk. ©2011 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.

Sports car zombie: NICHOLAS HOULT stars in WARM BODIES. Photo by: Jonathan Wenk. ©2011 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.

Title graphic: NICHOLAS HOULT stars in WARM BODIES. Photo by: Jonathan Wenk. ©2011 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.


  Art of the Edit Tutorials   •   Art of the Edit Forum
Reply   Like  
Share on Facebook


Related Articles / Tutorials:
Adobe After Effects
Behind the Scenes from Behind Oasis

Behind the Scenes from Behind Oasis

When one of the world's biggest rock and roll bands, Oasis, celebrated a career's worth of achievement, the film playing behind Rock-n-Roll Star was created by Creative COW author Nel Johnson and the team at Studio Skylab. Learn the After Effects techniques that helped them complete the project under a ridiculous deadline, while wowing Oasis and a worldwide audience. As Nel puts it, "We locked ourselves away, cranked up the music, and went nuts." In this Creative COW Magazine Extra, we take a closer look at the story, starting with the creation of the film's unique look.

Feature
Film History & Appreciation
Behind the Lens: Cinesite's magic touch with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Behind the Lens: Cinesite's magic touch with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

More from our exciting series, Behind the Lens: Creative COW's Debra Kaufman had an opportunity to speak with Cinesite 2D supervisor Andy Robinson and 3D supervisor Holger Voss about their facility's work on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. One thing is clear to anyone who's followed the Harry Potter franchise: the movies, which began in 2001, are a visual representation of the increasing maturity of visual effects artists and their technology. It's more than just Voldemort's nose, too, that Cinesite has created. Look behind the lens and unveil the magic.

Feature
TV & Movie Appreciation
Behind the Lens: Captain America: The First Avenger

Behind the Lens: Captain America: The First Avenger

Join Debra Kaufman as she goes behind the lens in the latest installment of her film vfx series, as Captain America: The First Avenger is brought from the realm of comic book imagination and 2D art, to the 3D world with stunning visual effects. Get the inside story of how thirteen VFX houses contributed to this new Marvel super-hero franchise as they share their stories with Debra Kaufman.

Feature
Art of the Edit
Behind the Lens: Cowboys & Aliens & Editors

Behind the Lens: Cowboys & Aliens & Editors

Creative COW’s Debra Kaufman had a chance to speak with the editor of Cowboys & Aliens, Dan Lebental, who was also Favreau’s editor on Iron Man and Iron Man 2. Cowboys & Aliens stars Harrison Ford as the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde and Daniel Craig as a stranger with no memory of his past in an event film for summer 2011 that crosses the classic Western with the alien-invasion movie in a blazingly original way.

Feature
Cinematography
Behind the Lens: David Boyd ASC & The Walking Dead

Behind the Lens: David Boyd ASC & The Walking Dead

David Boyd, ASC has lensed 10 episodes to date of AMC's highly popular 'The Walking Dead,' and also directed the sixth episode of the second season, "Secrets." Creative COW's Debra Kaufman spoke with David about shooting style, lighting and lens choices, and staying out of the way. To celebrate the new season of The Walking Dead, Creative COW Magazine is pleased to reintroduce you to David Boyd, the show's original DP, with unique insights to share on its shooting.

Feature, People / Interview
Art of the Edit
House of Cards: Coloring the Game-Changing Netflix Series

House of Cards: Coloring the Game-Changing Netflix Series

Season 2 of the pioneering Netflix series "House of Cards" brought a number of changes, including new Lead Colorist Laura Jans-Fazio. She spoke to us about her approach to this visually distinctive show, her remote collaboration with Executive Producer David Fincher, and her use of the Baselight grading system for fast turnarounds with the show's 5K footage.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Art of the Edit
Interlude's Treehouse: Interactive Video Authoring

Interlude's Treehouse: Interactive Video Authoring

"Welcome to a new world of storytelling," invites Treehouse's Interlude, an early player in the world of online authoring and delivery of interactive videos. In this review, Jerry Hofmann finds an impressive and easy-to-use service for creating "smart video" for more engaging content.

Review, Editorial, Tutorial, Feature
Art of the Edit
Under the Dome with Encore VFX Supervisor Stephan Fleet

Under the Dome with Encore VFX Supervisor Stephan Fleet

Visual effects are at the heart of Under the Dome, a hit CBS drama based on a novel by Stephen King, about a town trapped under an invisible dome that isolates it from the rest of the world. Read how Encore VFX created the dome itself for Season One, and other effects, as well as providing a full range of on-set and post services, all while translating the languages of many different disciplines into a single, unified vision.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Art of the Edit
Saturday Night Live's Film Unit: Making TV Fast

Saturday Night Live's Film Unit: Making TV Fast

Saturday Night Live's film unit produces a pre-taped segment for every live show, with nearly all of production and post happening within a 48 hour period. Director of Photography Alex Buono and editor Adam Epstein rely heavily on communication, improvisational filmmaking skills and the flexibility of their toolset -- including Adobe Creative Cloud -- to hit their deadlines and bring film spots to air each Saturday night.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Art of the Edit
GoPro Workflows for Editing Pros

GoPro Workflows for Editing Pros

GoPro footage is making its way into nearly every broadcast project that editor Shane Ross has been working on. It's even showing up in feature film production, so no matter what you're cutting, you're going to work with GoPro soon, if you're not already. Drawing on his real-world experience figuring this out on broadcast deadlines, Shane offers practical advice for editors using Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro CC, and Apple FCPX.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
MORE


FORUMSTUTORIALSFEATURESVIDEOSPODCASTSEVENTSSERVICESNEWSLETTERNEWSBLOGS

Creative COW LinkedIn Group Creative COW Facebook Page Creative COW on Twitter
© 2014 CreativeCOW.net All rights are reserved. - Privacy Policy

[Top]