Double Negative Singapore embellishes Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Iron Man 2 & more

By AMRITA VALECHA | 2 September, 2010 - 13:04

The Singapore division of one of the world’s leading VFX facilities Double Negative which opened a year back with a team size of 8 today boasts of an impressive lineup of projects and a team of 55 and growing. Over the last one and half years the studio has significantly contributed to the cutting edge of VFX of high profile feature projects such as Iron Man 2, Green Zone, Kick Ass and most recently Disney’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Dneg's current productions in the Singapore office include John Carter of Mars, Attack the Block and Paul. The studio will shortly commence work on Captain America: The First Avenger.

Here is a peek into the work of Dneg Singapore’s major projects so far...

Sorcerer's Apprentice
The team at Singapore worked on approximately 288 shots in tracking with about 31 bodytracks along with 189 roto/paint shots for the film. On the 3D side, the facility did a lot of matchmoving and object tracking and also a great deal of bodytracking as the characters had to be relit. This included facial tracking and tracking of the cloth.

Speaking to Animation Xpress Asia Pacific, Sam Schwier - 3D Supervisor informs "It was one of the first projects the Singapore office tackled with its newly trained team of artists, and for many of them it was there first experience of feature film work. The initial challenge was in the new artists becoming familiar with the level of details required for film and in adjusting to working within a scheduled project. Later on towards the end of the project, the team also assisted on rig removal shots for the final sequence.”

The Fantasia sequence in the film was one of the challenging ones, where the team had to get the whole set model and tracks entirely accurate as it all had to be relit in 3D to match up to the tesla coil sparks. Several difficult shots with large amounts of distortion caused by the usage of wide lenses were tracked and here the team needed to add set extensions.

Iron Man 2

Major work done by Double Negative for the second installment of Marvel Entertainment’s Iron Man was for the Monaco Grand Prix sequence, which involved recreating race-day in Monaco, including building augmentation, crowds and historic Grand-Prix cars. The studio also created Whiplash's electric whips along with their associated damage and destruction and the 'suitcase' armor that Stark implements to quickly suit up for the Iron Man vs. Whiplash Battle sequence.

The work done in Singapore included 21 tracks for the Monaco sequence including object tracks of Stark’s helmet for reflections and object tracks of the cars. Dneg Singapore handled a majority of the roto for this sequence, and marker removals and cleanup for the suit up sequence. The Singapore team also composited all the interior hotel shots overlooking the Monaco GP racetrack.

“In terms of roto work the Monaco sequence was very difficult due to the complexity of Whiplash's costume. Every single moving piece had to be created and animated separately. There were also lots of thin cables and other details that needed to be maintained. It was essential to be extremely accurate with the motion-blurred edges, as losing any detail meant that we were suddenly losing bits of his suit.”

Kick Ass

For this 2010 MARV Films’ super hero release, the brief given to the studio was to keep the work gritty and realistic but not to venture into the fantastical. The visual effects needed to be understated, in keeping with the feeling of the story while at the same time be very convincing so as not to distract the audience. Double Negative's work started with previz and went on to include the opening sequence, extensive set extensions, jet-pack effects and an extended overnight fight sequence.

Kick Ass work in Dneg's Singapore office included set building for matchmove along with 37 camera tracks. The team also provided a number of object tracks for Dave's (the protagonist character played by Aaron Johnson) jetpack so that rocket boosters, muzzle flashes, and bullet casings could be added to it at a later date. The work was for set extensions, BG replacement and a lot for reflections of the New York skyline on the exterior glass. Due to the show being shot on anamorphic lenses the team faced quite a lot of problems with lens distortion on this show as well.

Double Negative MDAlex Hope says, "We see huge potential for Singapore as a regional hub. We've been impressed by both the caliber of local talent and the commitment of the government to support our industry. Our ambition is to build the nature and complexity of work that we can undertake in Singapore. We'll also look to explore the opportunities to work with Film makers in the region as our capabilities expand."

Speaking about the education initiatives of Dneg Singapore, Oliver Atherton, 2D Supervisor, Dneg Singapore "The level of education is good here but they are not necessarily focused on film stuff. There are people going into games and TV. We are working with some schools here to get them to train students more specifically for films, that is entry level VFX training for films. We bring in their students and give talks at their schools. We are trying to educate them on the different roles that are there under the VFX pipeline. There is a huge lack of understanding on the 2d side, 2d in VFX is not concept or matte painting that requires drawing skills. What we refer to as 2D here is compositing work.


Sam Schwier, 3D Supervisor, Dneg Singapore continued “Here we are currently only doing match-moving, camera tracking, object tracking and body tracking. 3D wise we don’t have the full pipeline here and we trying to set up the full pipeline in the next 3-4 years, but we got to do it slowly as it is a big undertaking to make sure that every single thing in the pipeline works. Our goal is to recruit local talent and we have to do it step by step."

   Double Negative Singapore Team