Digital Domain Visual Effects Tools MOVA And Drop Receive Academy Awards®


Scientific and Technical Awards Committee honor the two groundbreaking technologies

Last Updated: January 14, 2015 11:55 pm GMT
(Playa Vista, California--January 14, 2015) The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Tuesday, January 13 its recipients for the Scientific and Technical Awards. Among the honorees were the technologies only available at Digital Domain, MOVA, the facial performance capture system and Drop, the large scale destruction toolkit. Each year the Academy honors the behind the scenes innovations that have demonstrated over time a proven track record of making, significant contributions to and improving the process of, making motion pictures.

MOVA has set the standard for capturing actor’s performances in films such as “Curious Case of Benjamin Button” for Brad Pitt's aging facial effects, resulting in an Academy Award® for visual effects, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” “Transformers: Dark Of The Moon” and “Tron.” Drop has been breaking ground helping visual effects artist create destruction in such films as “Tron,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Iron Man 3,” “Thor” and the Transformers franchise. This is the first time that two different technologies Digital Domain exclusively offers have received Academy Awards® in one year. Artists at Digital Domain have been awarded this honor four times in the past for FSIM - Fluid Simulation System, STORM, NUKE and Track.

“We could not be more thrilled about this tremendous honor,” said Daniel Seah, CEO of Digital Domain. “Our teams here work tirelessly and with a passion to find new and innovative ways to improve the industry standards. It is inspiring to be around this amazingly talented group of artists and we could not be more proud of them.”

Doug Roble, who has been with Digital Domain for 21 years and serves as its Director, Software Research and Development said, “The Academy has awarded two distinct pieces of technology at Digital Domain: MOVA, a tool developed to create believable digital actors and Drop, a tool that simulates destruction on a massive scale. It's a testament to the creativity and range of the software developers and artists at this company. We're constantly pushing the technology of visual effects forward, giving filmmakers new tools and audiences things they've never seen before.”

About Mova

Since humans are really, really good at recognizing faces, the challenge for the visual effect team is to create a computer generated character that the audience will believe. The visual effects team needs to be able to capture all the detail and subtle motion of an actor's face. MOVA was developed to do exactly that. The technology uses an array of many cameras, and an advanced lighting rig to record all the details of an actor's performance. Special software uses this massive amount of data to create a high-resolution animated digital 3D mesh of the actor's face. The shape of the actor's face is reconstructed down to the smallest of wrinkles and as a result all of the subtleties of the performance are preserved. Artists are then able use this animated face to reproduce the actor in a different scene or transfer the actor's performance to a different character altogether.

About Drop

Drop is a digital destruction effects toolkit. Simply put, Drop gives the artists the tools needed to take a 3D model of a building or object, and blow it up. First, the building will shatter. Drop takes a 3D model and lets the artist break it into bits and pieces. The building still looks the same, but now it's built out of a bunch of chunks. Next, Drop knows how things move. The artist can specify where the explosion starts and Drop will figure out how all the chunks of the building will fly apart and bounce around during the explosion.

This is very computationally expensive when you think of how much is going on in an explosion. Drop works in conjunction with "Bullet," an open-source rigid-body simulation system, so that the simulation of the motion of the chunks is very, very fast. And there can be a huge number of chunks . Before Drop, breaking up large objects was extremely difficult. With Drop, it's now commonplace and gives artists and directors new tools to tell an exciting story.

About Digital Domain 3.0

Founded in 1993, Digital Domain (“original Digital Domain”) delivered innovative visuals for more than 100 movies including “Iron Man 3”, the “Transformers” trilogy, “TRON: Legacy” and “Titanic.” Its artists have earned multiple Academy Awards®. A creative driving force in media applications, original Digital Domain brought its artistry to thousands of commercial, video game and music video productions. The original Digital Domain also created digital humans for concert performances and co-produced the feature film “Ender’s Game”. From facilities in California and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, including its own state-of-the-art virtual production studio, the Digital Domain 3.0 Group (consisting of Digital Domain 3.0, Inc., Digital Domain Productions 3.0 (BC), Ltd. and Mothership Media, Inc.) enables the creation of extraordinary visual images in traditional entertainment and advertising.


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