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Xbox ‘HALO 5: GUARDIANS’

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Method’s Los Angeles facility brought the complex world of “Halo 5: Guardians” to life for two cinematic spots launching the eponymous game, the latest installment in the popular “Halo” franchise. Directed by Furlined’s Henry Hobson via ad agency twofifteenmccann, “A Hero Falls” and “The Hunt Begins” showcase devastation and destruction on a massive scale as viewers catch intriguing glimpses of Master Chief and Spartan Locke.

As one of the main VFX vendors on recent disaster film “San Andreas,” Method was intimately familiar with the type of urban destruction effects needed and already had efficient pipelines and methodologies – and knowledgeable artists – in place. Method Senior Creative Director Benjamin Walsh worked closely with twofifteenmccann and Hobson to bring their script to life, starting with a detailed pre-visualization process to determine the specific shots needed to tell the story. This was refined into an animatic that provided a template for both the live action shoot and final CG elements.

Both spots were shot over six days across Kiev, Ukraine and Reykjavik, Iceland, with Method’s Walsh, Tracking Supervisor Fabio Zapata, and Tracking Artist Philip Rosado on set to supervise shots and gather information that would inform the CG and animation process. Once Method artists received the live action plates, the team had just six weeks to complete 74 visual effects shots: 23 for “A Hero Falls” and 51 for “The Hunt Begins.”

Method built the character models based on high-resolution meshes that were used by the game development team for in-game production, thus accelerating the modeling process and enabling the delivery of final shots that were completely in sync with the game. The destructive CG models were planned out in detail in advance, letting artists produce complex simulations right off the bat without much back and forth. Artists utilized Maya for building, modeling, and rigging assets, and MARI and ZBrush for texturing. Shots were initially animated in Maya, then shifted over to NUKE and later Houdini. Look development, lighting and effects were completed in Houdini and rendered in Mantra. CG imagery was composited with additional 2D elements, matte paintings, and the live action plates in NUKE and Flame.

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