Quality Is on the Screen

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2011-06-20 Print this article Print


All this new equipment equates to one major thing: The power and efficiency of ever-improving hardware and software platforms enable animation artists to do more in less time, so that more iterations of scenes and characters can be created. This results in more choices of art for the directors and producers.

"On a broad scale, visual richness and interesting literal depth of what you see in the film is what we're going for," Leonard explained.

"At the end of the movie, there's a climactic epic battle scene that takes place in the canals and harbors in the city, with lots of incredible water, fighting and other actions. These things are really hard to do in CG [computer-generated imagery], but you see them happening here without restraint. It's pretty magnificent."

Leonard said the most important change in the production software for Kung Fu Panda 2 was probably in the character toolset, "which gave us the opportunity to rerig our characters [based on the original Kung Fu Panda of 2008] and redefine some of the algorithms that create the motion and key performance enacting," he said.

"Of course, all the tools we used on the original movie needed to be upgraded to be able to handle [true] 3D. So when our [scene] -lighters' are working, they can now see their work in 3D. That's new on this film."

The sheer amount of detail in this film has gone way up from the 2008 movie. "The first Panda movie took about 50TB of data generated over the life of the film, and we used a little over 20 million render hours," Leonard said. "With this new film, we stored over 100TB of data and used over 55 million render hours."

That level of detail has a tremendous impact on the quality of the animation. "Look at the amount of richness, detail and expressiveness and all the things that go into making you suspend disbelief that Po [the panda] is emoting real character. That is a big part of what the technology does for the creation [of this movie]."

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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