- Columbia Pictures
- Dennis Dugan
- VFX Supervisor (Method Studios)
- Tom Smith
- VFX Producer (Method Studios)
- Korey Cauchon
- Method Studios
Adam Sandler fans get a double dose of this slap stick actor in Jack and Jill thanks to Method’s 143 visual effects shots. Method was the primary VFX vendor on this feature and the work completed by the team ranged from combining Adam’s performances of the two lead characters, to creating photoreal CG animals and helicopters. Read on if you want to find out how to collapse a pony and fly a bird into a chocolate fountain.
One of the key visual effects requirements of the film was to allow the audience to see both Jack and Jill not only in the same shot, but seeing both characters physically interacting with each other. On set Adam would typically be filmed as Jack in situ with a stand in Jill, and then a second take would be shot where he was dressed as Jill in front of a green screen. That was the simple part. In post, Method’s team used a variety of techniques, once the basic keying had been achieved, to ensure a completely believable interaction between the two characters. Examples include custom retiming of Jill’s motion and a series of articulated rotoscope separations allowing for the blending of the stand in Jill and the real Jill.
The collapsing pony shot was a challenge to the Method team as Jill and the pony were not shot as separate elements. In order to achieve a realistic fall, Jill, the pony and the wrangler had to be separately rotoscoped and their action retimed. These elements were then combined with a CG model of the pony which was animated with collapsing legs. Comic timing was obviously key in this hilarious scenario and all the components were expertly blended together to ensure the shot got the laughs the director was after. Subtle crafting of the scene included adding 2D hoof skid marks in the grass and some dust particles upon impact.
Poopsie is the family’s cockatoo and has a starring role in many of the
film’s funniest scenes. Several of the shots were deemed too demanding
for the bird performer and so Method stepped in to create a fully CG
version of the bird. This allowed the film makers complete control over
the action for ultimate comedic effect.
Method’s talented team of animators spent considerable time studying reference of the wing flap cycles of real cockatoos in order to give an accurate performance to the CG creature. Maya was used for the creation and animation of the bird, while lighting and rendering was completed with Mental Ray.
One particular shot involved a close up the bird flying into the chocolate fountain so once again the live bird remained in his trailer while the Method crew sprang into action. The CG model cockatoo had to look incredibly realistic in order to stand up to such close up framing and then there was the added challenge of matching artificial flowing fluids with the practical chocolate filmed on set.
To solve the challenge of creating the flow of liquid chocolate over the digital bird, the team used a custom animation system on top of the bird geometry in Houdini. Utilizing this solution, the actual flow of the chocolate was able to be precisely art directed, as opposed to using a conventional fluid simulation. The lighting on the virtual liquid needed to be just right, as it is alongside the practical chocolate in the background plate and so much time was spent finessing this component. Finally, the compositing team used a selection of 2D elements of dripping chocolate to put the final touches on the shot.
Method took great care in making sure the performance of the CG bird was accurate to the actual anatomy of a cockatoo to guarantee the shot looked as realistic as possible. Like much of the film, the viewer witnesses action not seen in everyday life but Method’s attention to detail ensured that the unbelievable was made to look believable.