From Digital To Reality: Bringing a Low Definition Model into a High Definition World
Have you ever bought a collectible from a movie, took it home, torn it open with complete excitement… only to realize it just doesn’t exactly match what you had seen in the film? I mean, it captures the overall look and feel but it’s not exactly right, the color is off and the detail is not right here and there...ever wonder why that happens?
We have too. It actually plays a major part in our design process and our quest to capture all of the accuracy possible!
Interpretation can be a huge sticking point when we create props, kits or costume replicas that originally only existed in digital form. Let's look at the Clone Trooper helmet as a great example of when reality diverges from what was seen on screen.
When the digital models used in the film were delivered to us, there were certain details that appeared to be missing from the basic 3D geometric map. It became apparent that additional details were layered on top of the basic form in later stages of the visual graphics process. Thus we had a unique situation. We had a great form to work with, but we would need to account for the missing details seen in the finished film.
Continuing our ongoing series on ANOVOS’s replica making process and the unique challenges each new project can present, this segment will focus on the art of taking given assets from the official archives and combining them with some good old fashioned reference pics.
- How to tackle the digital conundrum of taking a model created in earlier versions of CGI technology and bringing it into the newest iterations of that technology.
- Using the final results in the film as reference to bridge the gap, via the use of image captures.
This hit home when we received the nearly two decade old digital assets. The resolution on the models were considered low by current standards, and would have to be reworked.
Imagine, if you will, watching a film on an older television… playing back something on VHS. For the time that the technology was first introduced, it was considered “cutting edge”. Try playing a VHS tape on a high-definition television, and you wouldn’t be able to do it. Why? Simply put, our perception of quality has changed, and we now need to have every detail sharper, clear, and vibrant.
The same effect transpired here: The files we were given would need to be smoothed, reworked and perfected in some way before we could move on.
- Do we 3D print the model that we were given, using that as a base to hand-build a prototype in traditional media?
- Do we digitally re-model the helmet first (using the original model as a basic foundation to build up from), and then 3D print a prototype closer to our ideal?
Seeing as our digital models were missing some nuanced details, we decided to take it old school and do just the same. We painstakingly reviewed the footage repeatedly, documenting and analyzing every detail possible. Once we had thoroughly debated the ‘true’ final design on the helmet, we went ahead and digitally sculpted the missing details back into our base helmet. There are times where the “old ways” are still the best ways, nostalgia notwithstanding.
One such feature is what we have affectionately called the “butter cup”, which is in the center back of the helmet. If you’re familiar with peanut butter cups, particularly those in distinctive orange wrappers, you’ll see why as evidenced in the screen captures below.
Click to enlarge. Note the horizontal ridges in the "butter cup" that were included in our sculpt.
We’re continuing to push our efforts farther and farther and we have no intention of slowing down. We hope that you’ve enjoyed this little look into our process—if you did, let us know by leaving a comment below!