In Neill Blomkamp’s alien apartheid summer hit, District 9, effects artists were called upon to create a whole new reality’one with a convincing extra-terrestrial culture that extended beyond the creatures themselves to include vehicles, weaponry, objects and even pets. Vancouver-based The Embassy took on these extensive challenges with the help of Luxology’s intuitive modeling program, modo. Whether it was working with WETA Digital’s models or ground-up modeling, the Embassy team relied heavily on the software’s advanced UV mapping tools, 3D painting and texturing capabilities to conceive this realistic world.
Modo’s mechanical modeling and edge detailing aspects proved very useful in constructing the alien drop ship, and Embassy artists found the 3D painting capabilities a huge time-saver for building on the mesh of their alien “cockfighting” pet. Embassy also relied on modo’s versatility and render speed during look development for the human protagonist’s robotic exo-suit. “Because modo’s renderer is so fast, we could quickly set up shaders and occlusion maps,” says vfx artist Simon van de Lagemaat. “This was very helpful in simulating the dusty conditions on various parts of the exo-suit. We built some simple shaders and test-rendered it before moving it over to Autodesk Softimage XSI. It’s great to go into the shading and rendering phase with a good idea of what something’s going to look like.” As The Embassy’s main modeling software, the artists note that the program flows seemlessly with the rest of their fx lineup, which includes XSI, mental images’ mental ray, Pixologic’s ZBrush and Apple’s Shake.
Sony Pictures’ District 9 was the top movie at the U.S. box-office last weekend. For more information, visit www.luxology.com and www.theembassyvfx.com