Zoic Studios Helps Ressurect A Bigger, Bolder Battlestar Galactica

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New Episodes Feature Epic, Feature-Quality Spectacular Effects

Last Updated: January 9, 2006 5:59 pm GMT
(Culver City, CA) For the January 13th episode of "Battlestar Galactica" entitled "Resurrection Ship, Part 2," visual effects company Zoic Studios worked on a scale greater than anything previously imagined for the small screen. Choreographing and executing all the effects for the episode, Zoic used a combination of live action greenscreen and CG animation to create a uniquely memorable viewing experience.

Audiences can enjoy the cinematic proportion of the effects in this thrilling episode, which airs on SCI FI Channel on Friday, the 13th at 10pm et/pt.

"The shots we envisioned for the battle were epic," says Zoic CG Supervisor Chris Zapara. "There are very large ships in a close range brawl, with the audience in the middle of the mayhem. We have mile-long spacecraft sharing the screen with thousands of fighters, missiles and salvos, all of which need to interact. As a counterpoint, we see the same battle from far away through the eyes of a dying pilot. We have to show the same events, but without the scale reference, and have it evoke a very different emotion."

To resolve these challenges, Zapara said that everyone on the 12-person team had to wear several hats. Some would switch back and forth between animating and modeling while creating a shot, building only what was needed at the moment. Other times, the 3D team would pre-composite elements in what they called '2.5D' before handing them off to 2D.

Says Zapara, "Some of our shots had over 200 elements, so pre-comping our effects became a major part of our pipeline. It also allowed the animators to focus on timing and choreography so the compositors were able to focus on the final image."

Although effects like these may have been seen before on the big screen, Zoic believes that what they have created with "Resurrection Ship, Part 2" is bigger and bolder than ever presented on television. Life is messy; battles especially so. Zoic Studios did their best to ensure that their shots reflected a more accurate cosmic chaos: one with dust floating, chunks flying and light spilling every which way. In fact, Zapara said it was while he was driving home late one night that he noticed how the lights from the buildings illuminated the sky unevenly. "Adding haze to the shots, especially in the larger shots, really sold the scale and locked the bright explosions into the scene," he notes, "Other users of our software commented that they'd never seen the packages used in this fashion before."

Working in Newtek Lightwave3d 8.5, Autodesk Combustion 4 and Adobe After Effects 6.5, Zoic delivered 32 finals in 21 days.

Battlestar Galactica is the gripping saga of humanity's last remnants and their struggle to find a new home while fleeing from their deadly Cylon enemies. Redefining the space opera with its gritty realism, Galactica has distinguished itself by the intensity and present day relevance of its stories and the command performances of its ensemble cast. The series confronts everything from religion, politics and sex, to what it really means to be "human."

"This show, though it has always had great visual effects, is ultimately about the characters and their plight," says Zapara, "this battle is a desperate, all-out attempt to stop the Cylon fleet, and our shots show just how desperate a decision it is. I'm all for spectacle, and I think we certainly achieved that, but in context I feel our work really emphasizes the emotional impact of the story."

The visual effects for "Resurrection Ship Part 11" were produced by Steve Kullback for Zoic Studios. Key Zoic Studios credits also include Liz Alvarez (Coordinator) and Chris Zapara (CG Supervisor), Mark Shimer (lead CG artist), Lane Jolly (lead compositor), Don Kim, George Loucas, Matt Smith (compositors), Steve Graves, Kyle Toucher, Emile Edwin Smith, Geoffrey Mark, Richard A. Payne and Adam "Mojo" Lebowitz (CG artists).

About Zoic Studios:
Zoic Studios is a leader in producing visual effects and CG animation for commercials, feature films and episodic television. The company's credits include the Joss Whedon-directed feature film Serenity, episodics including "CSI: Miami," "E-Ring" and "Battlestar Galactica" as well as award-winning commercials for Mini Cooper, HP and Playstation2. Built on a foundation that allows maximum flexibility and creative product for its clients, Zoic Studios continues to focus on its own visual evolution. http://www.zoicstudios.com

About SCI FI Channel:
SCI FI Channel is a television network where "what if" is what's on. SCI FI fuels the imagination of viewers with original series and events, blockbuster movies and classic science fiction and fantasy programming, as well as a dynamic Web site ( http://www.scifi.com ) and magazine. Launched in 1992, and currently in 85 million homes, SCI FI Channel is a network of NBC Universal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies.

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