Motion Analysis, Nexus, Zoic Team for Final 'Buffy' Effects
written by Katie Mackal; from VFXPro

Motion Analysis Studios and Nexus Digital Studios teamed with Zoic Studios in Los Angeles to provide motion capture and 3D scans for the complex visual effects that will be featured in the series finale of "Buffy The Vampire Slayer," which airs Tuesday, May 20, on UPN.

"Joss Whedon and his team thought BIG for this final, historic episode of 'Buffy,' so we assembled some of the best artists in the industry to achieve this vision," said Loni Peristere, visual effects supervisor at Zoic Studios for "Buffy The Vampire Slayer." "The team at Motion Analysis Studios and Nexus delivered mo-cap data quickly and accurately. Their 'can do' attitude was critical in Zoic's being able to design and create sequences which -- in our view -- are among the most complex ever developed for a one-hour television show."

More than 100 moves were needed to complete the fight sequences in the final episode's major battle scene, which pits Buffy against an evil army of thousands she had seen in a premonition earlier this season.

"By attaching various L.O.D (level of detail) model files mapped with blended digital photos onto mocap data of various bad guy moves, Zoic was able to create thousands of bad guys without having to individually animate each one," said Peristere. "In addition, while having simultaneous control of the resolution of the model, we increased the rendering efficiency."

The series finale will also feature an updated version of the classic "Buffy" CG "dusting" effect in which "dust" effects are placed on footage of staked vampires during the post process. In previous seasons, production had to rely on human actors to play the "dusted" vamps. The two studios also completed body and head scans of James Marsters for a scene involving a close up CG transformation of Spike.

"It was great to scan such an iconic character as Spike for the 'Buffy' grand finale and to see the technology used to create illusions and dreams," said Domi Piturro, Nexus Digital Studios founder, studio chief and chief creative officer. "The technology has come such a long way that we can bend and shape our images of reality with such identifiable images."

"For the Buffy shoot, it was critical that Zoic receive accurate skeletal data as quickly as possible so they could focus on the photorealistic shots needed to create the superior level of effects for the finale," said Jeff Swenty, head of production for Motion Analysis Studios. "This kind of project is incredibly fun for us to work on because we get to help bring one of the most popular television series of our time to its climactic ending."

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