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LightWave 3D Helps Deploy “Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome”

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News : LightWave 3D Helps Deploy “Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome”

NBCUniversal’s visual effects artists use LightWave 3D software to create stunning visuals for the highly-anticipated sci-fi series

Last Updated: November 9, 2012 8:28 am GMT
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(Burbank, California--November 9, 2012) Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome is a new science-fiction drama from NBCUniversal premiering tonight on Machinima Prime’s YouTube channel for 10 episodes until February 2013 when Syfy, a division of NBCUniversal, is expected to televise the pilot and also offer it on DVD, Blue-Ray, On Demand, and digital download. Throughout the history of the Battlestar Galactica franchise, LightWave 3D® software has been a constant in the show’s production pipeline for everything from otherworldly atmospheres to earth-shattering visual effects. Blood & Chrome continues the tradition, adding Cylon robots, snake creatures, and more than 20 sets constructed entirely in LightWave 3D.



Blood & Chrome was originally envisioned as an innovative Xbox project comprising nine 10-minute segments with a budget of only $2 million. “Obviously, we can’t shoot Battlestar Galactica for $2 million,” remarks Gary Hutzel, visual effects (VFX) supervisor at Universal Cable Productions and on Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome. “I suggested that we look at a radically different approach to the show: to shoot it entirely against greenscreen. As the project gained momentum and the studio realized the cost benefits of this approach, the project gained more financing and grew into a two-hour “backdoor” pilot for a potential television series.”



Hutzel and the team at Universal were faced with a formidable challenge: producing a Battlestar Galactica-quality, VFX-heavy film from scratch—with “no sets and no locations,” he recalls—at a cost far less than a typical sci-fi pilot. “The way that we accomplished that was to do the entire show on greenscreen,” Hutzel describes, “and I mean the entire show. We are breaking the mold. Right now, we have 89 minutes of content and roughly three minutes of that is filmed against a set piece. The rest of it is greenscreen or pure CGI (computer-generated imagery). That’s how we attacked the project.”



“We are not a visual effects house in the normal sense,” affirms Doug Drexler, CG supervisor on Blood & Chrome. “Gary has set up a new paradigm. In his model, visual effects is part of the production, just like the art department. We’re there to do anything needed to get the job done.”



Blood & Chrome pushes the new paradigm even further, Drexler adds. “The visual effects department art directed, built, lit, and lined up the shots, designed all the action sequences, created the mood, and drove home the intent of every single scene. What person who fancies himself a filmmaker doesn't dream of being able to do that? And what other department could even conceive of being able to? This is the kind of power that comes from that unassuming little CG package called LightWave.”

Progressive Pipelines

After the team shot the live action against greenscreen, the artists moved ahead with designing the virtual elements, including the mood and look, says Drexler. “The computer and LightWave give us a lot of freedom; we can experiment to our hearts’ content without the constraints of budget and building physical sets.”

Drexler and his team of 10 CG artists used LightWave to retrofit the Galactica, including the Battlestar’s interior sets. “Because the show was all greenscreen, we had an opportunity to expand the ship and give it greater scope.” He and the artists pushed back walls and raised ceilings, but stayed true to the original Galactica design and layout.



Extensive virtual environments permeate the entire pilot. Hutzel’s goal was to create environments that enhance the live action shots on greenscreen, without drawing so much attention that the audience is aware of them. “We have a very natural feel with some large-scale elements that are very believable,” he affirms. “LightWave was instrumental because we can work with very large, high-resolution models very quickly. The latest visualization and lighting tools really expedite that process. I can literally light on the fly, just like I would if I were lighting a set. You simply can’t do that reliably in other packages and get the kind of results that we have.”

“LightWave has increased in flexibility and quality to the point where we feel very comfortable going into a project like Blood & Chrome and saying to the director and writers: ‘Write whatever you want. It doesn’t matter. You’ve paid to have us to do every shot on your show, write anything,’” exclaims Hutzel. “That is exactly what we did on Blood & Chrome, and we’ve been successful in bringing this idea to life. VFX are no longer cost-prohibitive.”

The bulk of the VFX shots for Blood & Chrome were created using LightWave 3D software with a majority of the artists having 10 or more years experience working with LightWave.

View the Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome trailer and watch the series on Machinima Prime.

About LightWave
LightWave 3D combines state-of-the-art rendering with powerful and intuitive modeling and animation tools. LightWave includes 999 cross-platform render nodes, support for Windows and Mac UB 64- and 32-bit operating systems, free technical support and more. LightWave is used worldwide as a complete 3D production solution for feature film and television visual effects, broadcast design, print graphics, architectural visualization, game development, and more.

LightWave has been used in leading feature films and television shows, including The Amazing Spider-Man, The Hunger Games, Avatar, The Adventures of Tintin, The Walking Dead, Fringe, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and many others.

For more information about LightWave or the LightWave 3D Group, please visit: http://www.lightwave3d.com, Twitter, YouTube or connect with us on Facebook.


Pricing and Availability

Purchase or upgrade to LightWave 11 and automatically receive LightWave 11.5 at no additional cost upon release. LightWave 11 is priced at $1,495 (US); upgrade pricing from earlier versions of LightWave is $695 (US). Educational pricing is also available. To purchase LightWave 3D, visit http://www.lightwave3d.com/buy.

About NewTek
NewTek is transforming the way people create network-style television content and share it with the world. From sporting events, Web-based talk shows, live entertainment, classrooms, and corporate communications—to virtually any venue where people want to capture and publish live video, we give our customers the power to grow their audiences, brands and businesses, faster than ever before.

Clients include: "The X Factor," ESPN X Games, New York Giants, NBA Development League, Fox News, BBC, NHL, Nickelodeon, CBS Radio, ESPN Radio, Fox Sports, MTV, TWiT.TV, USA TODAY, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

NewTek is privately owned and based in San Antonio, Texas. For more information on NewTek please visit: http://www.newtek.com, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr or connect with us on Facebook.



• LightWave 3D is a registered trademark of NewTek.

• NewTek, TriCaster, 3Play and LightWave are trademarks of NewTek.

• All other products or brand names mentioned are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.

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