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Friday, August 01, 2008

Entity FX Completes VFX for The X-Files


Copyright Twentieth Century Fox and Courtesy of Entity FX
+ Entity FX, an award-winning visual effects company in Santa Monica, California, and Vancouver, British Columbia, has completed visual effects for the new X-Files motion picture sequel The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Entity FX's Mat Beck supervised all visual effects for the movie, continuing a 15-year collaboration with co-writer and co-producer Frank Spotnitz and X-Files creator Chris Carter, who co-wrote and directs the film. Almost 400 visual effects shots were delivered in a matter of weeks to meet delivery deadlines for the theatrical release and DVD cut. Over 300 visual effects shots were handled by the artists at Entity FX and Entity FX North, with some additional shots sub-contracted to studios such as Illusion Arts, Hybride, Frantic Films and At the Post.
The project called for numerous diverse visual effects - from set extensions, greenscreen comps and matte paintings to 3D buildings, cars, weapons, body parts and blood. The project's most prevalent vfx challenge was radically altering shot environments through invisible "digital meteorology" effects. In many hectic chase scenes, characters, landscape and vehicles had to interact convincingly with a 3D blowing snowstorm, even when the actual footage had been shot on a clear day in brilliant sun." The weather's more than an environment for the story, it is almost a character that gets more claustrophobic as the situation gets more perilous," said Mat Beck, Senior Visual Effects Supervisor, Entity FX. "So we had to do more than add snow, mist and fog for continuity; we had to tune various shots to match the mood of the moment. Then there were shots where we had to remove falling snow -- that was harder. Between the weather, blood, creature, weaponry and digital makeup work, we had lots of levers to tweak the creep factor just the way Chris wanted it."

To help support creation of hundreds of snow shots and keep things consistent across the facilities, Entity FX built a custom toolset called Frosty with which to create or dramatically alter natural phenomena on the fly. Artists could use the software to generate snow interactively while factoring in dozens of important variables, such as wind direction, turbulence, blur and interaction with other objects in the scene." For this project, having a streamlined pipeline that could quickly accommodate various permutations on making shot footage look more sunny, rainy, wet or dry was essential," commented Entity FX 3D Supervisor David Alexander, who authored the Frosty application using Maya's Mel scripting language. "The sprite-based particle system Frosty allows us to automatically produce snow and mist elements from regular falling snow to outright blizzards and adjust many variables and controls in real time along the way. Frosty also includes built-in functionality for melting snow, generating z-depth channels and controlling files on a per-particle basis."The X-Files: I Want to Believe sees David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprising their roles as Agents Mulder and Scully, respectively. The film is being distributed by Twentieth Century Fox.
About Entity FX
Entity FX is an award-winning visual effects studio specializing in feature film, television and commercials. With facilities in Santa Monica, California, and Vancouver, British Columbia, Entity FX delivers creativity on the demands of today's production with a range of services in pre-visualization, on-set supervision, virtual backgrounds, matte painting, environmental effects, compositing, CG animation, specialty photography and more. For more information, visit www.entityfx.com

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