George Orwell never saw this coming.

Described as a convergence of George Orwell’s ANIMAL FARM and Oliver Stone’s Vietnam war classic PLATOON, director/ vfx supervisor extraordinaire Hasraf Haz Dulull & VFX juggernaut The Foundry have succeeded in pushing the vfx/ animation/ story narrative envelope yet further with their soon to be released short film, FUBAR.

FUBAR is a socio-political drama expressed as a visual narrative; a sort of motion comic / animated film created within the Foundry’s hotshot VFX software package, Nuke. According to folks in the know, FUBAR was inspired by another short film, Chris Marker’s La Je Tee, which was the inspiration for director Terry Gilliam’s post-apocalyptic feature, 12 MONKEYS. Nice company to keep.

Getting FUBAR

Hasraf Haz Dulull, doubling as visual effects supervisor and director, fills in the blanks behind the film:

” If I was to make a film with a visual narrative device like ‘La-Je-Tee’ today how would I do it with the visual effects tools available? Today, audiences want to see form and feel like they can touch it! Using VFX technology such as Nuke allowed me to push this visual narrative device to another level, adding dimension to what was usually 2D into a 3D and introducing a newer, up to date version of the visual narrative device used in La-Ja-Tee and motion comic films.”

The Process, on several planes

Director HaZ keeps on giving; “The film started off as pre-viz produced roughly by using photography of miniature models and placed on cards in the Nuke 3d space with a camera to block out the scenes.”

The pre-viz (pre-visualization) turned into post-viz (post visualization), where the look was fleshed out. Animated elements were added and animation was generated in Nuke ( using Nuke’s warp and displacement tools to create animated explosions and fire). Since this was all done with compositing tools and a compositor’s mindset, a visual style evolved thru the post-viz process, finalizing a final look for the film. Throughout the post visualization process, no CG renders were required, speeding up the process considerably, and in turn, allowed experimentation in Nuke’s 3D space with the virtual camera. The motion comic style became more dimensional, more 3D with depth and energy.”

DSLR’s bring the digital magic

The workflow was proved simple: photograph miniature characters with a Canon DSLR in front of white backgrounds, then extract the visual information from these photo plates with Nuke’s rotoscope and paint tools. Once the images were separated from the white backgrounds, these images were dropped onto flat ‘cards’ in Nuke. From there, it’s epic world creation: shooting lots of angles of the miniature marine characters, helicopters, etc., roto them and add them into virtual environments, all within Nuke. Miniature elements (soldiers, vehicles, buildings and locations elements were shot utilizing a Canon 450D DSLR. With the aid of photo painting tools in Nuke, these still photography elements later became digital matte paintings for environments and projected onto 3D model geometry within Nuke to create the feeling of dimension, form and space.

FUBAR is slated for a worldwide release July, 2011. Buckle your seat belts- this will be a blast! Meanwhile, quit holding yer breath and head over to HazVFX to check the trailer, below-

FUBAR trailer

Director HaZ Dulull Website

The Foundry

Chris Marker’s La Je Tee


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