San Diego, Calif.- March 27, 2008 - Pendulum, a leading digital animation studio for the advertising, video game and entertainment industries, has announced its recent production of four HD cinematic trailers for THQ's Stuntman: Ignition. Developed by THQ's Paradigm Entertainment, Stuntman: Ignition is the second installment in the critically acclaimed, million-plus-unit selling Stuntman franchise. The game challenges players to pull off death-defying stunts with precision driving by dropping them into the adrenaline-fueled role of a Hollywood stuntman, where they help make "Night Avenger", "Strike Force Omega", "Never Kill Me Again", and "Whoopin' and a Hollerin' II".
The trailers draw inspiration from iconic films throughout the superhero, action, spy, and comedy film genres. THQ relied upon Pendulum and the project's creative directors, studio owners Michael McCormick and Robert Taylor, for a turn-key solution that included not only full 3D production, but also look, style and script development, full-performance motion-capture, voice and mo-cap talent casting&direction, sound design, and the creation of original musical scores for each trailer.
"When you combine Pendulum's talented team and their ability to create visually compelling content for games, with Paradigm's desire to replicate a true Hollywood style trailer, there was no doubt we would get a stunning cinematic product for the title," says Jim Galis, Executive Producer for THQ-Paradigm. "Pendulum's attention to detail, their amazing facial animation software, all around competency from storyboard to render and their dedication to a superior final piece went above and beyond our expectations."
Leaning on the intriguing character designs and genres provided by Paradigm, Pendulum began by creating a story treatment for each movie. Since the four trailers would exhibit out-of-context movie sequences, as in the typical Hollywood-style movie trailer, the directors felt a solid background story was necessary to motivate each shot and convey the scope and depth of a full-length film. In mimickingthe traditional editorial style of movie trailers, each one would require a level of scene diversity uncommon for such short 3D pieces. "To paint a believable picture for each trailer we had to create environments specific to each film's genre and story, some of which were used for only a single shot," says Pendulum's Director of Animation, Michael McCormick. "Each film had a distinctive look and feel, which drove the need for unique cinematography and lighting styles, as well as a huge number of environments, matte paintings, characters, vehicles and props. Building so many assets and maintaining stylistic consistency for each trailer was a big challenge, requiring a great deal of organization and planning."
Faced with the creation of a large number of high-quality believable characters, who needed to exhibit dynamic personalities, dramatic actions and considerable amounts of dialogue, Pendulum employed their well-honed character development pipeline and a uniquely powerful full-performance motion-capture solution. The studio relied upon their longstanding relationship with premiere motion-capture studio, Vicon House of Moves, where they directed all of the project's mocap. Vicon's leading-edge full-performance mocap technology allowed Pendulum to capture multiple actors' bodies, fingers, and facial motions, while simultaneously recording their voices. This resulted in vast amounts of high-quality data, especially for the characters' faces. However, transferring complex facial data onto digital characters, to create emotive and realistic looking facial animation, is a well known and difficult hurdle in 3D animation. To meet this challenge, Pendulum made extensive use of their proprietary facial performance software, AlterEgo, which allowed the studio to apply many minutes of facial mo-cap data to the project's large number of characters, creating realistic and accurate facial animation in a short period of time. The software also allowed the team to animate on top of the mocap data, to enhance or modify facial expressions as needed. "It was critical to the project that we were able to manipulate facial performances to achieve the right amount of drama or intensity demanded by each scene," says Pendulum's Exec Producer, Robert Taylor. "AlterEgo provided us the ideal tool to achieve this flexibility, and at a speed and cost that I doubt would have been possible with any other solution."
Clothing for the trailers' many characters presented its own challenges. To increase efficiency, Pendulum built a library of reusable wardrobe elements which, with a few texture and modeling tweaks, provide for a flexible digital wardrobe department. However, some of the characters required some very specific and creative outfits. For this and all of the project's production efforts, Pendulum relied upon a combination of Pixologic ZBrush, Autodesk Maya, Syflex Cloth Simulator, Shave&Haircut, the mental ray renderer, and eyeon's Fusion compositing software. Other critical tools used were Wondertouch's particleIllusion, Apple's Final Cut, and the studio's proprietary facial software, AlterEgo.
The game allows players to showcase their skills in a wide variety of big-budget action films, commercial shoots and tournaments while commanding more than 25 unique vehicles, including exotic sports cars, motorcycles and hovercraft. Online multiplayer mode allows rival stuntmen to battle it out on the film sets and custom built back-lot arenas, or players can devise their own insane stunt runs and challenge other stuntmen at their own game. Stuntman: Ignition is available for Xbox 360, PLAYSTATION 3 system and PlayStation 2.
To see stills and video clips from the trailers go to: http://www.studiopendulum.com/qt_images_stu.html
Michael McCormick, Co-Director/3D Lead
Robert Taylor, Co-Director/Lead Compositor/Exec Producer
Wade Ammon, Producer
Matt Schiller, Character TD
Matt Chapman, Character TD
Reed Casey, Lead 3D Asset Artist
Bryn Murrow, 3D Character Artist
Gina Adamova, 3D Character Artist
Tyler Esselstrom, Shading&Lighting Artist
Stefan Minning, Shading&Lighting Artist
Emil Bidiuc, Animator
Kevin Jackson, Animator
Mark Tan, Animator
Jeff McNeil, 3D FX Artist
Scott Mitchell, Compositor
Brian Smallwood, Compositor
"Spooky" Dan Walker, Compositor
Alex Popov, Editor/Digital Media Artist
Ron Chan, Storyboard Artist
Siram Bhat, Digital Matte Painter
Daniel Sadowski, Original Music
Tracey Larvenz, Sound Design&Mix
Vicon House of Moves, Motion Capture Studio
Pendulum Studios is a San Diego, CA based 3D animation and digital fx studio focused on expressing the ideal fusion of art, cinema and technology by specializing in dynamic character animation and compelling storytelling. Owned and operated by directors, Michael McCormick and Robert Taylor, the studio strives to produce the highest quality animation for commercials, game cinematics, film, and their own animated shorts.
For more information about the studio, please visit www.studiopendulum.com.
Pendulum and the Pendulum logo are registered trademarks of Pendulum. All other company names mentioned herein may be trademarks of their respective owners. Copyright© 2008 Pendulum, All Rights Reserved.
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