+ damnfx is pleased to announce the completion of 20 minutes of cinematic animation for Halo 3, the third chapter in the immensely popular videogame franchise from acclaimed developer Bungie Studios. Halo 3’s release on September 25, 2007 is one of the most highly awaited entertainment events of the year. James McQuillan, lead producer at Bungie Studios, tapped damnfx to assemble a cinematic animation team capable of everything from subtle, character-driven performances to all-out action sequences, and tasked them with providing some of the character animations for Halo 3’s in-game cinematics. “We wanted damnfx to bring their attention to character detail to our cinematics, their ability to work shots from blocking to final polish and deliver renderable Maya scenes in a very tight production pipeline.” Once incorporated into Bungie’s game engine, these scenes are rendered on the fly by the Xbox 360 in high definition as players reach cinematic sequences.
“Having recently worked on two large format stereoscopic films for IMAX theatres, it was refreshing to focus simply on delivering outstanding animation, while letting Bungie’s Halo 3 game engine worry about lighting, rendering and compositing the shots!” said damnfx executive producer Peter Skovsbo.
CJ Cowan, Bungie’s cinematics director, worked closely with damnfx animation supervisor Emilio Ghorayeb to develop a standard of quality for all of the animation. “Bungie provided us with assets for each shot, from rigged and textured models to layouts for animation scenes, and provided clear reviews so we could maintain our level of quality and deliver on schedule,” said Ghorayeb.
After an initial trip to Bungie Studios outside Seattle last January to mind-meld with Cowan, Ghorayeb and Skovsbo returned to Montreal to gear up for an intense six months of work. Autodesk Maya 3D software was used by a team of 25 animators whose previous projects included such films as The Lord of the Rings, Shrek, King Kong, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Transformers. “One amazing aspect of the Halo franchise is its ability to attract top-notch artists who normally work exclusively on films,” said damnfx producer Chris Capell, who oversaw the day-to-day running of the project. “It’s just that highly regarded as an entertainment franchise.” "It's been a true pleasure working with such talented animators. They took the layout we gave them and were able to add personality, character, and subtle detail that is really hard to find in most animation houses, and was exactly what I was looking for. I look forward to working with them again," added Cowan. Capell and Ghorayeb worked together to create a very specific pipeline that could distribute and manage all the various shots and sequences amongst animators working both in-house and remotely. “With today's technology, I was able to work with animators in locations such as Montréal, Québec City, Los Angeles, Seattle and New York, to name a few, and deliver on time.” said Ghorayeb.
Reacting enthusiastically to the animation they saw from the damnfx team, Bungie brought Ghorayeb and a crack team of animators to Seattle near the end of production for some last minute fine-tuning and additional animation. “Being invited out for these last minute tweaks at Bungie was the icing on the cake. The animators knocked themselves out and it was tremendously rewarding to give them the opportunity of seeing Bungie from the inside, of collaborating with CJ and his team face to face. Halo 3 was a fantastic experience. Would I do it again? Most definitely,” added Ghorayeb.
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