Animation: The Archive
The Archive, exterior and interior
The video below shows breakdowns for two of the major CG shots in the film, The "Archive Track" and "The Archive Pulldown". For the exterior shots, VFX Supervisor Gregory McKneally and his team created a digital model of The Archive exterior and placed it in a digital ocean surrounded by volumes of mist particles. 3D Artist Steve Cassar focused on developing the details of the tower exterior, including the vertical axis turbines and solar panels. He also spent countless hours fiddling with the CG ocean. Meanwhile, compositor Cath Eliot carefully removed unwanted elements from the live action helicopter shot of the coast - frame by frame. 3D artist James Feeney created individual splash animations for the base of the Tower. Greg came up with a rendering strategy involving numerous different render passes, which he then combined together during compositing with the live-action helicopter shot. Once the various renders were finished the final look was developed and graded.
The Archive Pulldown, which starts outside the Archive and moves down through all the different levels of the structure until it finally finds The Archivist riding in on a bicycle, is without a doubt one of the most complex shots in the film. Concept art and previsualisation by Greg McKneally allowed the team to see the basic camera movement, and figure out what angles each level would be seen from. Then each level was developed as a separate scene, with thousands of individual 3D objects. For the Art Level, everyone got a chance to suggest a few great works to be preserved. Franny kept asking for the archive to be "more full of stuff!", and so the team diligently taxed their computers to the limit, creating more canisters of animals, ancient sculptures and futuristic data servers.
The entire interior sequence was modelled, lit, textured and animated at the Photon Shepherds studio by Greg McKneally and James Feeney. Once the live action shoot with Pete was completed, James focused on matching the "Living level" with the live action reference photos. When the modelling, lighting and texturing were finalized, many different render passes were churned out (over several weeks of dedicated processing - the studio was humming!) and combined by Greg to create the final look for each floor.
Finally, after months of hard work, the Director, Animation Director and VFX Supervisor headed down to The Farm post-production studio in Soho to watch colourist Perry Gibbs do his magic.
And that's a wrap!