Jun 20, 2012

CGI - Steps behind making of movies

Computer Generated Imagery
Some of the steps behind the making of movies

I've read dozens of topics on the internet about programs which are used to create Computer Generated Imagery (or CGI on short) for movies especially and what people always ask is which program is better? Which one is easier? Which one should they learn to use?

Well those are some tricky questions I must say, because the professional artists who create movies or games or even a commercial, most of the time have to use more than one program to create the final result which is a beauty to the human eye in the end. There is no single program that can do all the job for them, each program is created for something else. I must say that each software has it's own role into the developing process, so the process is always split into many pieces that artists teams can take care of.
The first step is always the concept art which is based on sketches that a 2D artist draws regarding to the needs of the story or the script, his work needs to give an idea to the 3D artists about the lookings of the characters he draws. Most concept artists still use the pen and paper to create stunning drawings that are the base of a good understanding of the characters.
The second step is to make some scenes that will appear in the movie for the 3D artist to understand the environment, then the blueprints and all the 2D drawings that have been already done are passed to the modelling team which creates the models on computer using 3D softwares such as Maya, 3Ds MAX, Zbrush or Mudbox. After the 3D models are created the next step is to add textures to them. After the models and textures are finished they are passed to the animation artists who create the rig for the characters and animate them, this is one of the hardest part but still a beautiful one because animation is the one that gives characters life.
After the animation is done they need to add the lightning required, using HDRI images to match the environment that the characters will be standing in. Then after the render is done the sequence needs further compositing for color correction, specular match and other errors that might occur during the renders, or just modification that the FX Supervisor wants. When the visual compositing is over they pass the sequence to a sound fx studio that create and edit the sounds which also bring emotion and life to the characters on screen. Of course there are other teams as well for particles experts and lightning artists but I tried to stick to the basic workflow. So as far as we know it's a really complicated process that requires time, resources and teams of CG experts, and sound FX engineers.
These talented people are the one that bring great movies on screen every year and in my opinion they deserve more respect than they get.

If you want to learn more about these just google some "making of" movies and you will find tons of information about how they do it, but they don't usually say in what program. Another great show which presented the world of creating movies was Science of the Movies which was broadcast by Discovery Science, I don't know if it's still going on but you can try to find some episodes on the internet, it shows great programs and technology used to create some awesome graphics that appears on the big screens.

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