SAN RAFAEL, Calif - Focus Features' animated, action-packed adventure "9", from director Shane Acker and producers Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov, spotlights animation from Starz Animation Toronto using Autodesk, Inc.'s (NASDAQ: ADSK) Autodesk Maya and Autodesk Mudbox 3D software.
At Starz Animation Toronto, 125 animation artists and 100 other employees completed work on "9" in just 14 months. Maya was used for asset creation, camera work and animation, while Mudbox was used for digital sculpting and texturing. Director of Photography Kevin Adams said, "'9' is a testament to what can be achieved with good planning, fearless execution, and great tools and support from Autodesk."
The film's virtual camera is positioned only nine inches off the ground, showing the world from the characters' perspective. This zoomed-in view required highly detailed characters and environments. Adams explained, "Our greatest creative challenge was creating a close-up view that still felt visually rich. Every sequence has a new location with either a new stitchpunk character or an attacking monster."
"9" tells the story of a post-apocalyptic world in which machines have destroyed the human race. A group of small creations was given the spark of life by a scientist in the final days of humanity, and they continue to exist post-apocalypse. With their group so few, these "stitchpunk" creations must summon individual strengths well beyond their own proportions in order to outwit and fight against still-functioning machines.
Starz Animation Toronto developed a tremendous amount of detail for each scene. This required robust character rigs to communicate characters' body language, extensive facial animation, and frequent mixing of 2D backgrounds with 3D foregrounds. Adams said, "All of our artists can work in 2D and 3D, and Maya helps bring it together by bridging these worlds. This helps us take shortcuts without compromising visual quality, and lets us get every possible ounce of cool on the screen."
Adams added, "We used Mudbox for the first time in production on '9', primarily for ground detailing. The software proved itself and we look forward to using it more in future projects. Maya has been the backbone of our digital pipeline since Starz Animation Toronto opened its doors. We love it for its power, flexibility, excellent support, and huge community of artists."
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