In Twilight Saga: Eclipse, the third in the phenomenal franchise from Summit, the warring vampires and werewolves under Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Jacob (Taylor Lautner) negotiate a truce to protect Bella (Kristen Stewart). Under new director, David Slade (30 Days of Night, Hard Candy), the bar has been raised dramatically and aesthetically, which extends to the vfx as well.
Tippett Studio is back handling the wolves, under the supervision of Phil Tippett and Eric Leven. But instead of the anthropomorphized protectors from New Moon, they are more believably animalistic. Fortunately, Tippett met the challenge by applying a new fur growth system developed for the upcoming Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. This replaced their customary black-and-white map technique.
“I describe it as a compositing package with a node-based system where you plug lead nodes together the same way you would in a Shake or Nuke project,” Leven explains. “So by building a node-based tree you determine how much fur is grown by calculating length, width and curliness.
“We have a base layer of fur that grows out of that and then another layer of fur that grows when interpolated byRenderMan between the pre-grown hairs, which is something we’ve never done before. Those hairs are not as controllable, but you get a much richer and denser look, still using the same amount of memory footprint.”
The other thing Tippett did was use more HDRI on set to cut down on the lighting time. In terms of performance, Tippett made the wolves more ferocious and less human. “That was basically different types of poses,” Leven adds. “They don’t stand as upright as they used to and are more down and low and we made sure that their heads were below their shoulders.”