Valiant is unique in many respects, from its costs of $40-million and production time of just 2 years to the introduction of a 2D post-production phase into an animated 3D environment. Vanguard’s innovative approach has paved the way for an entirely alternative method of producing animated films and The Foundry’s FURNACE strongly featured within this new and unconventional production model.
Buckley Collum, co-producer of the film commented, “Delivering a CG film production like Valiant would have taken much longer a few years ago.
Introducing new methods, such as using The Foundry’s motion estimation technology and visual effects plug-ins over re-rendering, played an integral part in delivering this film on budget and on time.”
Due to the film’s smaller budget, the luxury of a huge development team was not an option, so creativity with off-the-shelf hardware and software was a necessity. The Vanguard team constantly found themselves weighing the cost of fixing something via a re-render vs. fixing it with a compositing step and more often than not the team opted to fix it via compositing. The FURNACE toolset was used extensively in the post-production process, all within the standard Shake compositing environment.
Ron Brinkmann explains, “Using plug-ins as opposed to more traditional methods simply proved to be far more efficient. We had a number of situations where renders would chatter over a sequence of frames (overlapping feathers aren’t the easiest thing to render!), FURNACE’s MotionRepair was invaluable. Using The Foundry’s advanced motion estimation technology we were able to interpolate areas from surrounding frames so that we didn’t have to re-render things and could simply replace frames with artefacts by analysing the surrounding frames.”
Lower budgets will naturally dictate shorter production timeframes, the production pipeline was broken down by discipline; an animation department, texturing group, lighting department and so on. Each department had the task of delivering 70 shots each week, increasing to 100 shots during peak production! Keeping to these targets were vital, to ensure the next department in the chain would have enough to work on for the next week and ensuring the film hit its targets.
“Valiant was a unique movie in a number of respects,” continued Brinkmann, “I think it really broke new ground in terms of a very high-quality ‘look’ while still keeping to a very tight budget and aggressive schedule. But to accomplish this every piece of the pipeline had to be streamlined and efficient, part of that was making sure that problems were fixed in the smartest possible way. The FURNACE toolset from The Foundry allowed us to be incredibly productive with our shot- production. We were able to fix things at the compositing stage that would otherwise have required time-consuming re-renders or shader debugging. The fact that the FURNACE tools are so well integrated into Shake meant that they fit into our workflow seamlessly”