Sunday, September 11, 2011

Harry Potter Animation Sequence Ben Hibon

Its is always an interesting sequence when a live action film incorporates a fully animated sequence. An exceptional example takes place within the seventh Harry Potter film. The animation and tone set by the piece compliments the entire piece. It is used to help fill in backstory to explain a crucial point in the story line that movie viewers need for a fully comprehensive story. The animation depicts a children's story (Deathly Hollows) with a voice over from an actor in the live action sequence which leads up to this piece. I enjoyed the style and details the animation was comprised of. In animation I feel that the directors don't receive the credit compared to those that direct strictly live action films. I wanted to learn more about the director, Ben Hibon.

Ben Hibon directed the project while Framestorm was responsible for creation. Hibon kicked off the project by brining in some of his artwork and suggesting a technique to use. The technique used was a form of eastern shadow puppetry. The objects where projected on to cloth in the form of shadow by using flames. The image becomes more crisp as the object gets further from the flame and closer to the projection surface. Creating the designs and concepts to be sent for approval took six weeks. A big concern of the team was the need for the objects not to be simple they needed complexity. This lead to the decision to give the objects a 3d appearance instead of creating a flat world. They hired a texture design team to create color and displacement maps in a program called Zbrush. This provided the sequence with rich composition. The overall appearance has a paper texture. The 3 minute animation can be found here (embedding disabled). Programs used to create this project include: Maya, Zbrush, Mental Ray (for rendering purposes), Houdini, nCloth, and Nuke (for compositing).

The ultimate goal of the project was to create a "gritty and hand-made feel"- Dale Newton, sequence supervisor. They wanted the characters to be deciphered through the poses they took so the faces were kept relatively simple and plain. A well done piece. I'm looking forward to Ben Hibon upcoming project, Pan a fantasy action thriller.

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