BŠnk BŠn - opera movie
Directed by: Csaba KŠel
We have worked a lot on BŠnk BŠn - an opera movie based on music of Ferenc Erkel (a Hungarian composer) -, many shots were altered digitally. However, the people in the movies did not realized this at all, since all the effects were so called "non visible" digital effects. There were several different tasks we had to do: some of the misplaced cables, lights had to be removed digitally, we had to also remove cars and houses which happened to be in the background in some of the shots. In some cases beams of lights and lightnings had to be created digitally, since they are extremely hard to shoot on stage. On this site you can read about some of the effects I've worked on.
In one of the most important shot of the movie queen Gertrķd enters the throne room with regal magnificence . My task was to generate falling rose pedals in 3D because there were not enough of them on the original plates. As always the first thing to do was collecting reference materials. I went to the flower market and bought several different kinds of roses. After removing their pedals I scanned them (despite the objection of my female colleagues).
I painted the matte of the pedals by hand, thus I could generate the models of the pedals using simple textures on poly planes. The motion of the pedals was generated using the dynamic simulation of Maya. In Maya there is basically two ways to go: either using rigid body simulation or particle simulation. The first one is some more accurate since the pedals can collide with each other, while the latter is much faster. I used the faster particle animation, which worked fine, and replaced every particle with a polygon rose pedal (there were around 6 different models). The only problem was to generate the rotation information of the instanced pedals since particles have no rotational attributes. I used the turbulence field to drive the particles motion and their rotation as well. Fortunately the production used some fake rose pedals made of paper - which moved slightly different than real ones - while the motion of my particles in Maya was much like the falling of the paper ones.
At the end we used only white and yellow pedals. The timing of the falling digital rose pedals had to fit into the footage, but of course some of them were falling from the "air" above the camera (we could not generate extra servants), but fortunately this is not recognizable at all.
Of course setting up the dynamic simulation for the particles and set up lighting was not all that have to be done. We had to match the motion of the virtual camera to the original one. This meant we had to track lots of points to generate the camera motion.
One of the most dramatic scene in the movie - where Melinda tragically drowns in the Danube - takes places in a huge storm. We had to transform clouds shot in very nice weather to dark and stormy clouds. This approach was very useful, since using the "extra" information in the pictures the lightnings could be integrated seamlessly (they could lit the whole overcast).
Burning tree coming down
In the storm a lightning hits the tree next to Melinda, which flames up and comes down separating the panic-stricken Melinda and the people saving her. I had to add flames on the tree, in order to increase the dramatic feeling and to give the impression that the tree is like a dangerous, living something. Not only some extra flames had to be inserted but I also made the lightning in 3D and composited on the tree.
The lightning effect consisted of two parts: some extra clouds had to be put in the background (as the lightning hits the tree) and 3D sparks were also generated. It was interesting that the sparks made in Maya matched perfectly the original ones, so no one recognized - even in the studio - that I touched anything except the lightning. For the sake of fine details I even made an extra burning branch that falls off the tree. However, I have to concentrate very hard to catch it...
As the lightning hits the tree it catches fire and soon the whole top is burning. Since on stage they only set the body of the tree on fire I had to burn the branches as well. I made a pretty simple NURBS model of the tree and matched it's animation to the original one. I used the integrated fire effect of Maya - of course with all the parameters changed proprietary -, and I also used animated textures to make the fire "flow" along the branch. At the end only the flames were rendered and composited on the real branches, the model of the tree was used only for emitting the flames.