“We only nailed the art style 100% in April this year. If this was a conventional movie, finalising the look 13 months in would have been a big no-no”
DIGITAL COPY To reap the greatest reward from the available budget, an Xsens inertia suit and gloves by Manus were used for all of Rift’s mocap work (right) FINE-TUNING Building on mocap performance, Dulull and crew used a range of software and custom-built Unreal Engine tools to refine character looks and movements (below) my team was high. If they’re an amazing character animator, or excellent lighting artists, I wanted them to focus on doing what they do best.” SHAPING A LOOK Perhaps the most impactful factor in animation is art style. For many viewers, it transcends voice performance, editing and narrative itself. As revolutionary as Rift ’s creation was, some age-old factors never change. In fact, above and beyond all technical barriers, establishing the aesthetic proved Dulull’s greatest hurdle. “When we started doing our first animated projects in Unreal, we found they looked very cool, but they felt like video game cinematics. That was the feedback when I showed early tests to
simulated that elsewhere. We also did a lot of 2D effects on top of Unreal renders, once they’d been pulled into Resolve. Controlled details like bullet hits can be tricky in a real-time platform.” To the envy of animators and directors alike, the ability to update completed content with ease provided the crew with genuine freedom of choice. Decisions that would typically have to be locked in well on schedule could be taken to the wire. “We actually only nailed the art style 100% in April this year,” Dulull continues. “If this was a conventional movie, finalising the look 13 months into production would have been a big no-no. Obviously, we had to go back and re-render all the shots, but that was a very minimal time investment.
friends within the industry, too,” he says. “Established looks are specific. There are newer productions with very lifelike CGI or classic 2D animations. When we spoke to distributors, they told us if we stylise and find a look that’s so unique it becomes its own thing, that’ll work.” Examining Rift ’s timescale is rather surprising – but so is everything else about it. Pre-production began in October 2020, official production kicked off in January 2021, with the picture being finalised for distribution this month. In another interesting circumnavigation of the traditional pipeline, Dulull used Resolve’s capabilities to experiment with early grading and adding unique visuals. “We used the watercolour plug-in to see what kind of looks we could get, then
29. SEPTEMBER 2022
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