With help from technology created by Autodesk, Inc., previsualization has become an integral part of modern moviemaking. For Paramount Pictures' and Marvel Entertainment's summer blockbuster "Iron Man 2," Los Angeles--based previsualization studio The Third Floor used Autodesk Maya and Autodesk MotionBuilder software to help create a highly detailed previsualization that allowed the filmmakers realize their creative vision. With a worldwide gross exceeding $600 million, "Iron Man 2" kicked off the summer movie season on a record-breaking number of screens.
Blockbuster movies are increasingly complex with bigger budgets, more elaborate visual effects and ever-accelerating post-production schedules. Filmmakers have always relied on storyboards, concept art and physical models to visualize their movies. Over the last 25 years, however, digital previsualization (previs) has become an integral part of moviemaking. Today, filmmakers often hire previs companies to create a digital representation of characters and environments using advanced computer animation techniques.
The Third Floor worked hand in hand with "Iron Man 2" director Jon Favreau and various filmmaking departments to create nearly 700 shots, each requiring three to four iterations, making for a total output of several thousand shots. The previs process helped the filmmakers throughout production to visualize the movie, strategically plan production and realize their creative vision.
"Iron Man 2" Previsualization Supervisor Nicholas Markel of The Third Floor said, "Ideally, previs empowers filmmakers -- from director, production designer, cinematographer, visual effects supervisor, editor, and art director -- with more creative freedom. Maya is the backbone of our previs pipeline, with MotionBuilder as a perfect complement for virtual moviemaking. Using Autodesk FBX technology, we were able to transfer assets between Maya and MotionBuilder. This provided flexibility for the filmmakers to manage both their vision and budget, ultimately creating the best film possible."
The primary Autodesk software tools used by The Third Floor on "Iron Man 2" are available as part of the Autodesk Maya Entertainment Creation Suite 2011, which offers Maya 2011 software with both MotionBuilder 2011 and Autodesk Mudbox 2011 software. Maya 3D animation, modeling, visual effects, rendering, and composting software offers artists a near end-to-end creative workflow. MotionBuilder provides a real-time animation engine for more interactive creative feedback and efficient handling of large amounts of animation data. Mudbox helps artists sculpt highly detailed models more quickly and intuitively. The complementary toolsets enable artists to expand creative capacity while improving production quality and efficiency.