Design And Effects
The extent of the integration of 3-D and 2-D gives TITAN A.E. much of its unique look. It also was the filmmakers' greatest challenge. Some sequences, for example, have 2-D characters in 3-D spacesuits, riding 3-D vehicles. "It was a tough nut to crack, but worth it," says Gary Goldman. Hand painted textures helped integrate the 2- D and 3-D worlds, softening the image and the "clean" computer generated look. "We always were trying to push the boundaries of mixing 3-D and 2-D," adds animation director Len Simon.
While 80 percent of the film contains computer generated (CG) effects, including interiors, sweeping space vistas, planets, weapons and ships, the crew of the Valkyrie is made up of 2-D characters. "To me, there's something about 2-D that just feels like it's had human hands on it," Bluth explains. "I didn't want the film to be entirely computer generated, because there's something about CGI to me that seems a little removed."
Other characters, like the Drej, translucent and pulsing with fluid energy, called for computer generated (3-D) imagery. "The CG allows little Drej nuances that we couldn't have drawn by hand," says production designer Philip Cruden, "such as the delineation of their skeletal structure and the energy that pulsates through them."
The Drej are a highly intelligent, super-evolved species — cold and ruthless killers with no regard for life, especially human life. When they lose a limb, they grow it back almost instantly. They have no eyes or face, only a void. And although they are many, they can at any time become one with the Drej mothership, which is capable of absorbing the power of the individual Drej to create enough energy to destroy Earth.
Earth's destruction is one of the film's several effects set pieces. 3-D lead animator Charlie Breakiron, who jokes that his role on the film was "demolition expert," used 30 layers of 3-D elements to create the global explosion. Despite the scene's fantastic nature, Breakiron and FX supervisor Peter Matheson based the planetary explosion on geological facts. He explains: "The energy beam from the Drej mothership causes the Earth to spin faster and faster, and it starts to break apart on the plates, which are on the actual fault lines. After the tremendous explosion, there is a horrendous shock wave, and chunks of Earth's crust take out some of the fleeing ships, and even the moon."
In addition to the effects work done at Fox Animation Studios, the production used acclaimed experts at other top effects houses. Blue Sky Studios produced the CG effects of the stunning creation of the new homeworld scene that ends the film.
Persistence of Vision Digital Entertainment (P.O.V.D.E), a hand-picked team of artists including Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace editor Paul Martin Smith, G.BF.E. and The Phantom Menace animatics supervisor David Dozoretz also made important contributions. Working closely with Cruden, P.O.V.D.E. created the overall concept (pre-visualization) and produced the CG effects for one of the film's most suspenseful scenes: the perilous journey through the Ice Rings of Tigrin.
In this "ice crystals" scene, one spaceship is trying to locate and pursue another through a field of giant ice formations 50 miles long that have clustered together to form an ice ring shaped like a galaxy. The scene is marked by the suspense tension that generates as the ships move through the reflective surfaces of this dramatic and dangerous "hall of mirrors." The filmmakers compare it to harrowing chases seen in films such as The Hunt
For Red October and Run Silent, Run Deep.
Inspired by Cruden's ice crystal designs, Dozoretz and Smith first helped define the look of the scene by developing pre-visualization animatics. "We especially liked the reflective surfaces that P
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