Special Effects in the movie industry
Summary: A visual effects production studio working on a movie needed to create realistic 3D digital doubles of one of the main actors, a little boy, for use in some otherwise dangerous stunts.
The Goal: To use a professional handheld 3D camera to digitally capture this young actor in less than 5 minutes, then to export the lifelike 3D model to Topogun, where it was finalized.
Tool Used: Artec MH
Main Road|Post, a visual effects production studio, was set up in 2006. The studio worked on visual effects for well-known movies and series like Wanted, The Inhabited Island, The Admiral, The High Security Vacation and others. One of the studio’s latest projects is a movie called ‘August Eighth’, a film by Dzhanik Fayziyev. Main Road|Post used an Artec 3D scanner for special effects in this movie.
‘August. Eighth’ is a Russian war drama about the armed conflict of 2008 between Russia and Georgia. A single mother finds herself in the epicenter of the war trying to save her son. A few days before, she had sent him to see his father, her divorced husband, and grandparents. When the war starts, she decides to travel there to save her son.
Aside from the war, there is another theme present throughout the movie: the boy has a giant robot as an imaginary friend. In his imagination, they fight an evil android. When the conflict escalates, the boy imagines that all bombing, killing and destruction is the work of the evil robot.
Why Artec 3D Scanners?
Artec 3D scanners were used to create full 3D body doubles of the little boy during dangerous stunts. Michael Lyossin, CTO at Main Road|Post explains: “We needed to create a digital body double of the boy for extreme stunts and dangerous scenes. Most of them were shown as wide shots, others as medium shots, so the 3D model had to be very accurate”. To create the model Main Road|Post used an Artec MH scanner. “Of course we could have modeled the character by hand, but this would have cost us a lot of time”, said Michael, “the digital body double is used all throughout the film. The movie opens with a fantasy of the boy that shows him with his robot friend. This is where the 3D model played a major role.”
Watch the video below to see how the boy’s body and face were captured. Scanning the whole body took about 5 minutes.
Handcuffs, boots, shoulder pads and belt, all parts of the boy’s costume, were scanned, too. In the end, Main Road|Post had a complete digital full body model of the actor in 3D.
This model was then exported into Topogun, a resurfacing and maps baking application used in graphical design.
Michael’s team first worked with the model’s topology (applying a net onto the model) and made sure all isolines were properly aligned along the body. “With the Artec 3D model as a basis, we saved a lot of time in doing this. There is no need to double check the body’s proportion, for example”, states Michael.
Main Road|Post is glad to work with Artec and when asked for suggestions on how the scanners could be improved, they expressed their wish for increased accuracy. Artec continually invests in R&D and will strive to improve accuracy in the next generation of scanners.
Many scenes in ‘August. Eighth’ were shot using this full body 3D model. Michael Lyossin comments: “No one should be able to spot the difference between the real actor and his digital double. This is what our work was all about: making them look as similar to one another as possible”.
‘August.Eighth’ came out in February 2012, and by March more than 1.5 million viewers had a chance to enjoy the hard work of the creators.