Halo 3's Cinematics: Bungie and D.A.M.N. FX
Posted by lukems at 6/12/2007 2:53 PM PDT


In the third season of FX's excellent cop drama The Shield, a foil to Vic Mackey's Strike Team showed up. The Decoy Squad. Every bit as qualified as the Strike team, the Decoy squad stuck around for a few episodes and ultimately worked with the Strike team. Not so much the Decoy Squad, Emilio Ghorayeb, the animation supervisor for a group of special operatives working at Bungie, compares his folks to a television show of his own choosing: The A Team.

While we have our own Cinematics animation team at Bungie helmed by wunderkind CJ Cowan and rounded out by Lee Wilson, Kurt Nellis and Nathan Walpole, because of the many cinematics in Halo 3, we've brought in some reinforcements via  D.A.M.N. FX (Digital Artists Montreal Network). Coordinated in part by our three person Cinematic producer trifecta, Matt Priestley, Matthew Burns and Jim McQuillan, the D.A.M.N. FX guys, Emilio, Eric Lessard, Bartek Kujbida, Phillipe Zerounian and John Velazquez took up temporary residence here in our placid Seattle suburb and in a corner of the crowded Bungie studio. They’ve been working offsite for several months; we imported them for a week of focused on-site work. While our in-house cinematics team continues to work tirelessly on both polish and getting things working in the game engine, we brought the D.A.M.N. FX guys in to work directly with us on some key sequences. The pedigree these special guest stars brought with them was great. Their collective portfolios include working on the Shrek trilogy, Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Happy Feet, Transformers, Madagascar and countless other things you’ve no doubt seen or heard of.

Ghorayeb is staring intently at his computer watching a sequence in Maya over and over. Miranda Keyes enters the frame, addresses another character and begins to walk away. That's not what he wants. Later, Ghorayeb has (under CJ's watchful eye) retouched the sequence. Now when she enters, she extends a greeting to one character and acknowledges another with a nod. Where before Miranda’s actions may have seem too stoic, the simple acknowledgement of another character and that character’s situation feels more human.

"This is probably the only video game I'd ever work on," Ghorayeb says. "Halo 3 is the exception, not the rule." The rule is that the D.A.M.N. FX guys often work in the film industry, not the game industry. Both sides have their quirks.

"There's an immediate payoff working on a game," Eric Lessard says. "The whole process is much faster, you get direct feedback. In the movie industry there is a lot more waiting, you might not see the final product until the theater. Here we see things come together pretty quickly."

Another way working on a video game differs from working on film is the animators' ability to impact scenes. Where a film might have a fan on set to blow a character's hair, in Halo 3, the animators control that hair, giving it a twist if need be, or having the way clothes move around a character's neck while they talk -- in film, those things would happen on their own, but in animation, the cook's have more tools for the kitchen. Lessard is working on a series of animations for a treat that will recur throughout Halo 3, each time, with different dialog and animations for each occurrence.

Bartek Kujbida is a Halo fanboy and one of the D.A.M.N. FX guys coralled by CJ "I never would've thought that I had a chance to work on Halo. It really is a big deal to me." Kujbida's desk is covered in the latest Halo swag, something to take back to Montreal with him when D.A.M.N. FX heads home next week. On his screen, he's working on something so secretive I can't believe he's allowed to look at it.

"You have to understand who or what this is in order to animate it," Kujbida says."One character was described to me as Sean Connery-esque, so when I animate that character, bits of Connery’s personality and mannerisms are in the back of my mind.” But how do these nuances get brought to life? “It can be something as subtle as how a character would hold a gun. Maybe this character holds it like this," he says, holding his arm out. "And maybe this other character holds it this way," he twists his arm like a special guest in a Warren G song.

Standing amongst marines in the grey, low-res, texture free Maya window, the Master Chief walks into frame, reaches up and pulls a sniper rifle down from a shelf. He tests the rifle and shoulders it. “Nah, show it to him in engine, Phillipe,” CJ says. Phillipe Zerounian clicks a few things on his screen, pulls down some tabs, does things I don’t understand and the HDTV next to his computer attached to the Xbox lights up.

Now running in real-time in engine, the Master Chief walks through a door and awe strikes the faces of the marines in the Pelican’s cargo bay. He reaches up and pulls down a sniper rifle from overhead and readies the rifle. As he raises it, light streams in from outside. It travels up the Chief’s armor, glistens off of the rifle’s barrel and as the cargo door opens wider, you can see the reflection of the cargo bay opening up to somewhere in the Chief’s visor. Depth of field blurs the tip of the rifle, while the Chief and marines with mouths agape remain in focus.

At this stage, the game is constantly seeing tweaks and improvements. One day it might see a brand new visual effect that burns your eyes from their sockets, another day it might be a piece of placeholder dialog being replaced with the real thing. The same iterative process applies to cinematics. New sequences are polished and popped into builds daily, serving as another reminder that Halo 3's completion is rocketing toward our  faces.


Maption Sack Double EXP Weekend Live! 

Posted by urk at 9/10/2010 9:09 AM PDT

Oh, we're not done yet!

A 4v4 mix of Double EXP Slayer and Objective gametypes on a whole mess of your own community created maps.

Category: Double EXP Weekend
Max Party: 8
Max Team Size: 4
Heroic/Mythic Map Packs Required
Updated 12/03/2009

Gametypes

  • Team Slayer (33.3%) - First team to 50 kills wins. 12 minute match time limit.
  • Team BRs (21.6%) - First team to 50 kills wins. Players spawn with Battle Rifles and Assault Rifle secondary weapons. 12 minute match time limit.
  • One Flag CTF (11.8%) - Round based Capture the Flag, one team has a flag while the other attempt to capture it. Most captures after four rounds wins. Four minute round time limit.
  • Multi-Flag CTF (21.6%) - Both teams are attempting to capture the other team's flag. First to three captures wins. 20 minute match time limit.
  • Multi-Flag CTF BRs (11.8%) - Both teams are attempting to capture the other team's flag. Battle Rifle starts. First to three captures wins. 20 minute match time limit.

Maps

  • Actuality-Break (Foundry)
  • Apex (Sandbox)
  • Backdraft (Sandbox)
  • Battle Dome (Sandbox)
  • Ber Ber Creek (Sandbox)
  • Borderline (Sandbox)
  • Breakdown (Sandbox)
  • Bridgeo's (Sandbox)
  • Chimera (Sandbox)
  • Colonnade (Foundry)
  • Conduction (Sandbox)
  • Coup d'Etat (Sandbox)
  • Cryptic (Sandbox)
  • Cryptic Fate (Sandbox)
  • Deity (Sandbox)
  • Eighty Grit (Sandbox)
  • Elysium (Sandbox)
  • Emperor (Sandbox)
  • Exhibition (Sandbox)
  • Fortress (Sandbox)
  • Fracture (Sandbox)
  • Gauntlet (Sandbox)
  • Haven (Sandbox)
  • IZ9 Courtyard (Sandbox)
  • The Kingdom (Sandbox)
  • Lotus (Sandbox)
  • Neosho (Sandbox)
  • Nocticulent (Sandbox)
  • Onyx (Sandbox)
  • Pantheon (Sandbox)
  • Paranoia (Sandbox)
  • Pilaster (Sandbox)
  • Pivotal (Sandbox)
  • Rat Trap (Sandbox)
  • Ravinia (Sandbox)
  • Reflux (Sandbox)
  • Regicide (Foundry)
  • Reminiscent (Sandbox)
  • Renovation (Sandbox)
  • Requiem (Sandbox)
  • Salvation (Sandbox)
  • Sand Towers (Sandbox)
  • Sentiment (Sandbox)
  • Skystation (Sandbox)
  • Solarium (Sandbox)
  • Static (Sandbox)
  • Stonehenge (Sandbox)
  • Subversive (Sandbox)
  • Synapse (Sandbox)
  • Tartarus (Sandbox)
  • Topple (Sandbox)
  • Transgression (Foundry)
  • Tribal War (Sandbox)
  • Undulation (Sandbox)
  • Vengeance (Sandbox)
  • Workplace Bravo (Sandbox)

Tags: Halo 3

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Where's Mah Dooble EXP?! 

Posted by urk at 9/2/2010 5:52 PM PDT

Fix your -blam!-, Bungle!

So, yeah, This week's Double EXP Weekend is running a little behind. I blame Ninja 0n Fire. (He tells me that some fairly large updates are being deployed and as a result, we'll likely not see the Double EXP Weekend go live until tomorrow, or, *gulp* "later").

When it is ready to go, we'll let you know.

'Under Fire' - ubald Render 

Posted by urk at 9/2/2010 9:00 AM PDT

Feet first into awesome.

Looks like ubald unleashed another render over at HBO. This one's a WIP and part of a much larger collection that will ultimately serve as a webcomic. But you should check it out now.

ubald: Halo Rendered Comic

Tags: Halo 3: ODST

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Chronicles of ODS Steve #81 

Posted by urk at 9/1/2010 9:30 AM PDT

Faux Chief.

This week's Steve's getting all Batman on some Scarab carapace.

Chronicles of ODS Steve: Faux Chief (#81)

Tags: Halo 3: ODST

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Top 10 Halo 3 Kills on The Pit: Episode 59 

Posted by urk at 8/30/2010 9:00 AM PDT

You know the deal.

Anoj didn't submit his latest entry to Comm Chatter, but they gang at HBO picked up the slack. Besides, even without Anoj's familiar wordplay, we all know what this video's about anyway. There's like ten kills. You can submit your own for next week if you're astute enough to figure out how to make it happen.

Top 10 Halo 3 Kills on The Pit: Episode 59

Tags: Halo 3

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