Nucoda's OpenEXR format increases grading performance on LEGO Star Wars : The Padawan Menace

London, UK, 8th December 2011      Young Star Wars fans were rewarded recently when Cartoon Network aired The LEGO® Group and Lucasfilm’s joint-new adventure and their first-ever original television special, LEGO® STAR WARS™: The Padawan MenaceTM.

The fully animated, 22 minute HD programme was graded on Nucoda Film Master by Sam Chynoweth, Colourist at Academy Award-winning Animal Logic the same production company behind the Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole and Happy Feet, which were also graded on Nucoda Film Master.

When grading the project Chynoweth worked almost exclusively in OpenEXR with floating point precision. For animation projects like this real-time playback of 16-bit, Half-Float HDR OpenEXR files provides significantly increased performance pushing the boundaries of speed and quality.Chynoweth says, “Our asset management system handles the delivery from the centralised server to our grading SAN. From there we take the XML data created by editorial, run it through our internal tools and generate an EDL referencing our lighting assets.” Chynoweth then used Nucoda Film Master to conform from data to generate compositions ready for grading.


IMAGE CREDITS - TM & © 2011 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved. StarWars™ and all characters, names and related indicia are trademark of and © Lucasfilm Ltd

He adds, “Grading CG images that originate in Floating Point can create some interesting highlight management issues.  It was challenging at times to maintain the varying plastic textures across some of the scenes. Careful use of Nucoda Film Master’s RGB curve tool combined with individual layered mattes allowed us to maintain the differentiation between the tight spec of C-3PO’s metallic plastic for example, and the broader spec found on other characters’ hair and plastic fabrics.”

An animation project like this requires a tight workflow from inception to delivery. In this case it began with Animal Logic’s artists creating storyboard sequences for the entire piece from the script, working closely with the director. The pre-visualisation department then uses the storyboards to begin a rough layout of the shots and environments and the animation department picks up those shots and starts to work on the characters. Following this process, lighters collect all of the assets created throughout the workflow and bring them together to start generating the final images.

Chynoweth adds, “It’s at this point that we start the conform process in the DI suite using Nucoda Film Master. We begin grading in parallel to the delivery of the final images from compositing and lighting to maximise our time in the suite. We started the DI process five weeks out from delivery with the most intense work taking place in the final two weeks.”

He concludes, “The system’s layer routing tools were invaluable throughout the grade. Our heavy use of mattes combined with the layer routing allowed us to better control the elements of the image. Without Nucoda Film Master we wouldn’t have been able to make use of the selective blurs, individual balancing and depth grading that these tools make possible.”

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About Lucasfilm
Lucasfilm, the Lucasfilm logo, STAR WARS™ and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. TM & © Lucasfilm Ltd.  All rights reserved.  All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners.

About LEGO Systems
LEGO Systems Inc. (LSI) is the Americas (North America and Latin America) division of The LEGO Group, a privately-held firm based in Billund, Denmark. The company is committed to the development of children's creative and imaginative abilities through high-quality, creatively educational play materials, and its employees are guided by the motto adopted in the 1930s by founder Ole Kirk Christiansen:  "Only the best is good enough."  For more information, visit www.LEGO.com

LEGO and the LEGO logo are trademarks of the LEGO Group.  ©2011 The LEGO Group.

All trademarks used herein, whether recognized or not, are the properties of their respective companies.

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