Walt Disney Animation Studios has launched a new virtual camera system with the upcoming Wreck-It Ralph (Nov. 2), which is a potential game-changer. Evan Goldberg, manager of animation technology, gave an informative sneak peek at FMX 2012 in Stuttgart, Germany, last week. He revealed with some making of footage that they created the virtual camera system to replicate the feel of a real camera in layout. It was particularly suited to Wreck-It Ralph, the story of an ’80s video game baddie turned hero, with its “hand-crafted” and “organic” feel.
While Disney embraced the Vicon camera for optical tracking, it had to think long and hard about switching from Maya to MotionBuilder. In the end, the studio stuck with Maya when it figured out how to run at 24 fps with Open GL.
Likewise, introducing capture technology into the Feature Animation pipeline proved challenging, but well worth it, considering the dynamic advantages you get with the new system: a digital scouting device, closer involvement for the director (Rich Moore), hundreds of takes in an hour, the ability to scale a virtual world up and down, as well as translate and rotate, and an unparalleled camera polish. Plus the ability to introduce different looks for the movie’s three worlds, including a hand-held one for the futuristic first-person shooter game, Hero’s Duty (the second image). The other two are Fix-It Felix Jr. (the first image) and the candy-colored Sugar Rush racing game (the third image).
Goldberg proclaimed that the future would offer a simple operator view, gestural, lyrical motion for simulation and VFX, such as velocity-driven particles.
Wreck-It Ralph takes animation and virtual production to new heights at Disney.