About The Creature
Of course, the biggest casting coup was Godzilla, who, much to the chagrin of onlookers and New York City media, usually appeared in the form of three skinny guys from California carrying a pole with a reflector on its end, a video camera and a surveying
Of course, the biggest casting coup was Godzilla, who, much to
the chagrin of onlookers and New York City media, usually appeared
in the form of three skinny guys from California carrying a pole
with a reflector on its end, a video camera and a surveying tool
poised on a tripod. This odd assortment of equipment helped "match
move specialist" Joe Jackman, under Volker Engel's guidance,
plot Godzilla's presence.
"In order to put Godzilla in the movie, we had to know where
the camera was in every frame," says Jackman. "To do
that, we figured out where everything was by actually taking 3D
measurements of everything and then comparing that to the 2D information
in the frame. We could mathematically figure out where the camera
was, based on reconciling between the 3D and 2D information."
The buildings, coupled with Godzilla's enormous size, obviated
the more typical mode of tracking a digital creature in space,
Z-tracking. This process usually involves the use of a sphere
and a cube, objects the computer recognizes, to determine spatial
orientation. Clearly, this was much too puny a method to measure
something like Godzilla.
"What we did was to utilize a tracking system, using a Zeiss
surveying tool, so we could create a CG (computer graphic) environment
in which we have all these points where the buildings actually
are and can put the creature into this CG world," Engel explains.
"The Zeiss tool is essentially an architectural measuring
device; you know exactly where the buildings are, what their altitude
is, where you exactly have to place Godzilla so he can move down
the street. That helped us a lot, because we were dealing with
this gigantic creature, so we couldn't use the standard Z-tracking.
Nobody has really ever dealt with a creature this size in a CG
environment before," Engel explains.
Jackman adds that they used the pole with the reflector to compensate
for the buildings' odd angles. "Sometimes, if the side of
a building was really oblique, we'd take the pole to it because,
otherwise, it would bounce away from us. With the reflector,
we got a bounce back from the building."
The Hi-8 camera gave some shape to the data collected with the
pole and the Zeiss tracking tool, and the information went from
New York to the visual effects unit in Los Angeles via the web.
The data got uploaded to a protected website where visual effects
personnel had access to it.
Positioning Godzilla in a shot, already a complicated process,
became even trickier because Emmerich typically filmed with multiple
cameras and favored a moving frame. To accomplish this, and to
expose as broad a vista as possible for the movie's enormous star,
cinematographer Ueli Steiger shot in the widescreen Super 35.
"The reason to shoot with Super 35 is that it is easier
to get the equipment, and the lenses are lighter. On a film like
this, when we had so many cameras rolling on many different locations,
that was something to consider," he says. "The other
important thing is that Godzilla is a film in which much of the
frame will be digitized, whether that be the creature or different
elements. Since we only used half of the negative area as we
shot it we could actually reposition the frame quite easily and
adjust it to the creature. So even the shots with actors in them
could be treated like p
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