It’s amazing how fast time flies by. It has almost been 2 weeks since I was out in LA to get the scan done for the movie. It was quite an educational experience and I had a blast asking questions about how the stuff is done and seeing some of the projects they’ve worked on.
To start with, Stephen and I were flown in and put up at a hotel about 2 blocks from the studio. The studio is called Gentle Giant and is one of the top modeling shops in Hollywood. It seems that almost every aspect of CG work is done in stages with various shops specializing in specific areas. Gentle Giant only does modeling, they don’t animate the characters, their specialty is in just creating awesome looking models that are then sent on to another shop for the animation process to take place. It was a blast walking in the door because they had life sized versions of beloved characters from a lot of movies. There was Mike and Sully from Monsters, Inc. Yoda, Darth Maul, Darth Vader, Jar-Jar Binks, Jabba the Hut, etc. from Star Wars (Jabba is quite big and they said they actually rent him out for parties). They even had a life sized version of the chick from Avatar (I have no clue how to spell her name so I’ll just leave her as chick) she was about 14′ tall or something ridiculous. There were a lot more hanging around, but you get the picture that this was one of the high end model shops to do work for all the big blockbusters.
We were taken out to a portable trailer that houses their scanner. They keep it mobile in case a shoot needs the scans to be done at a certain location instead of making everyone go to the studio. We were told that the following day they were going to scan a horse for the movie (which they have a larger scanner for). Anyway, they brought us in and told us that they were going to do a full-body scan as well as a detailed head scan just to play it safe. This is where things got a bit awkward. A full-body scan required us to wear nothing but our underwear. In retrospect, I think it was nice to not know about this since there was no fretting over standing in a cold trailer with practically nothing on. We had to hold 3 different poses that would give them a detailed representation of what our bodies looked like standing still, with our muscles flexed and with our hands in various positions. The trick to doing this is that you have to remain perfectly still for the 15-30 seconds that the scanner takes to run down the length of your body. Thankfully the machine doesn’t touch you at all, it just has 2 arms in front of you and behind you that travel straight down.
After the fun and frivolity of the full-body scan, it was time to do the head scan. This consists of sitting in a chair and having the scanner travel completely around your head while getting detailed measurements of your entire head and face. To make sure that no clothing gets in the way, you can’t wear a shirt while you’re doing this. Once again, you can’t move for around 30 seconds and the tough part is that you can’t blink while the scanner is in front of your face. I messed up the scan a couple times because I have a hard time not blinking. To help the animators, they had us make a bunch of faces, standard, smiling, angry, surprised, etc. so that they will have accurate models of how the various facial features change depending on the expression.
All in all, it was a fun experience. I love being involved in video projects (as you can probably tell by the plethora of videos I keep putting out). It was really neat to see how things are done when budgets aren’t much of an issue. Keep on the lookout for the movie coming out in November. I will post more details related to things as we get closer to the release date.