CASE STUDY |
From green light to first transmission date, SkySportsHD had eight weeks to complete the next seasons Guinness Rugby Union Titles sequence. Adam Wells’ grand scale production design required a comprehensive green screen shoot with two full teams of Rugby players and vast monolithic CGI chessboard environment.
With Storyboards and References complete and approved, shooting was scheduled but work began straightaway with blocking and Pre-viz - this process also helped design and direction prior to the shoot. The 3D team began blocking shots and helping camera placements to achieve the grand scale required. Adam and Chris were also aiming for a specific film quality and grade to enhance the epic feel of these goliath athletes, effectively doing battle on this huge chess board.
Once filming was complete and the first cuts were edited together, there was a call made to create longer, wider and more dramatic shots than were actually viable in the studio to really push the scale of the production.
The 3D team were also given incredibly realistic rock and concrete break up references that needed to be implemented in the break-up and destruction of the colliding and felled giant chess piece structures.
For creating some of the long shots we projected some of the footage onto plates in 3D - this enabled us to lengthen some of the shots to get the size and scale the directors were looking for. The locked off shots were straightforward to match in 3D, we tracked the moving shots so we had an accurate 3D plate match.
After several days of meticulous modelling and some 3D sculpting we had our complete chess set which of course was duplicated for the opposing set. We then used custom scripts to allow us to break and fracture the chosen pieces that would be destroyed in specific shots.
We had fairly accurate and precise direction over where and how certain pieces should break up and fall. Once this was achieved we moved onto rigid body simulations - the simulations were applied to the ‘fractured’ pieces to provide a realistic and convincing ‘scale, mass and density’ to how they would break apart. To fine tune this even further the resultant simulation was ‘plotted’ or baked so we had the option to tweak and fine tune the final simulation.
Final layering of effects was using particle simulations for dust and debris - a combination of well placed emitters for dust ‘spurts’ and using various components from the rigid body simulation as emitters - provided a solid base for these final embellishments, this also allowed the dust and debris to follow the flow/arc of break up.
Lighting and shader set-ups were refined with dailies into compositing in flame to achieve the grade required, sub-surface-scattering was used on the chess pieces to give them a marble and slightly translucent feel. Additional layering of marble seams, dirt and imperfections gave a convincing statuesque feel.
The compositing team really pushed the final look of the shots, using depth passes extracted from the 3D CGI and adjusting the depth of field to convey impressive scale, honing grade lighting and making great use of strong point lights from the horizon line and background plates.
Final touches included using ‘plates’ of fine dust, debris and smoke that were pinned in the 3D and rendered or carefully layered in the composite.
You can see here the full Vfx break down of many of the shots, from original plates all the way through to final touches. The entire team, was pleasantly rewarded for all their creativity, effort and hard work with two industry accolades - Winner: promaxBDA World Gold - Best Sports Opener and Nominated: BAFTA - Best Title Sequence.