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The need for a pipeline

  • a 'hopper' - unstructured, simultaneous mixing! NOT how we operate.
  • pipeline/assembly-line - stages oriented, specialized depts, well-defined in/outputs

Our pipeline consists of 12+ departments.. It takes that many divisions, hundreds of people, several years and vast computing resources (all adding up to many, many millions of dollars) to make a CG animated movie, that too in stereo.
Summary: "do not try this at home" :)

So what are the various departments that contribute to movie-making at DW?

Dev

Dev

Story

Story

Story department

Purpose: to come up with stories..

Skills: writing, drawing, storyboarding..

Software/other: storyboard panels, china markers, Photoshop, Cintiq, AE..

I: scripts,, imagination

O: story, storyboards

Story

Ed

Editorial

Editorial

Purpose: refine shots and camera moves [later on, ongoing: assemble movie]

Skills: film editing, stereo principles..

Software: Maya, Avid, AE..

I: shots, images, audio

O: shots, work-in-progress and completed film

Ed

Art

Art/Vizdev

Visual development/Art

Purpose: create look of the movie, characters..

Skills: drawing, painting..

Software/other: Photoshop, traditional media, Maya, Mudbox..

I: storyboards, imagination

O: art related to environments, props, characters

Art

Mod

Modeling

Modeling

Purpose: create CG models of characters, props, sets..

Skills: drawing, painting, sculpting, CG modeling, miniatures construction..

Software: Maya (might also use Mudbox etc. in the future)

I: character designs, set designs, prop designs..

O: CG models

Mod

Rig

Rigging

Rigging (character-prep)

Purpose: add joints and controls to CG characters to prepare them for animation

Skills: figure drawing, animatronics, puppetry, matrix math..

Software: adb_setup, EMO, `Script^(TM)`, Python

I: skin geometry of chars

O: 'rigged' chars (with animatable controls)

Rig

RLO

Previz/Layout

Previz/Layout

Purpose: create shots (composition) and camera moves

Skills: architecture layout, space planning, cinematograpy, set dressing, camera operation..

Software: Maya, EMO, Motion Builder..

I: CG models

O: shots [collected into sequences] - animatics first, final animation later

3D

RLO2

FLO

FLO

Animation

Animation

Animation

Purpose: animate characters (and props too)

Skills: traditional animation, stop motion, sense of timing/pacing, acting..

Software: EMO, Rig

I: animatable characters, geometry

O: animating characters, geometry

Crowds

Crowds

Purpose: create crowds (human, animal, insect, bird..)

Skills: animation (esp. cycles), fx..

Software: in-house (eg. 'scatter'), Massive

I: scenes with standin crowds

O: scenes with crowds

Animation

Surf

Surfacing

Surfacing

Purpose: create "looks" of things and characters

Skills: painting, photography, makeup, shader writing..

Software: adb_paint, Photoshop

I: CG models

O: texture maps, shader networks

Surf

MP

Matte painting

Matte painting

Purpose: create backgrounds, set extensions

Skills: painting, set design, scene painting, model construction..

Software: adb_paint, Photoshop, Vue, Maya..

I: artwork, rendered images

O: matte images, 3D matte geometry

MP

CFX

CFX

CFX

Purpose: add character effects (cloth, hair/fur) and secondary animation

Skills: traditional animation, CG scripting, knowledge of math/physics..

Software: Maya (plus plugins), Flexo (in-house)

I: concept art, characters without cfx

O: characters with cfx and secondary deformation/animation

CFX

FX

FX

FX

Purpose: add effects to scenes (water, fire, dust, explosions..)

Skills: traditional animation, CG scripting, knowledge of math/physics..

Software: Maya, pa_setup, Houdini..

I: concept art, scenes without fx

O: fx (additional geometry in scenes)

FX

Lighting

Lighting

Lighting

Purpose: add lighting to scenes to create final look

Skills: lighting design, makeup, photography..

Software: 'light'

I: scenes without lighting

O: scenes with lighting (ready to render)

Compositing

Compositing

Purpose: layer parts of scenes (image fragments) to create final frames

Skills: green screen, photography, collage..

Software: 'comp' (in-house), Photoshop..

I: scenes in separate layers

O: integrated (single layer) scenes almost ready for filmout

Paint Fix

Paint Fix

Purpose: do last-minute fixes

Skills: photo touchup, image editing, tracking..

Software: Photoshop

I: scenes with minor visual problems

O: scenes with problems removed :)

Look here for examples of 'before and after'.

Filmout

Filmout (post)

Purpose: create films ready to ship/project

Skills: film-recorder knowledge, titling..

Software: Photoshop, Lustre (for color grading) and in-house film-recorder shooting software

I: image sequences

O: completed movie!

Production

Support

Support infrastructure

In addition to all the 'Production' depts we looked, these additional ones also help with film-making:

  • AnimTech: R&D, Systems (hardware), TRA, OSA, A/V, IT..
  • Training/Art Dev/Outreach
  • Production Management (incl. finance)
  • Marketing, Distribution, CP
  • HR, Benefits, Recruiting
  • Facilities/Catering
  • ..