Story by Vonnie Maddox and Aqeel Fikree
In today’s behind the scenes ofÂ â€˜Levity Xero Error Minus1′ feature stories, we introduce you toÂ Tamas Tancos, Levity’s post-production supervisor, the man who compiles the film together and makes it look good.
Position for Levity:
I am employed at one of the biggest international post-production houses in the UAE, as a lead compositor and head of 3D. Part of my job is to guide and work with my team, built of talented artists, and to report and get feedback from the producers and our managing director.
Full 3D animations, feature films, music clips, ad commercials etc. Usually I do “the finishing” for the shots, which means mainly to compose the 3D layers together, setup the final lighting and mood and add special effects, elements to make the final composition alive and believable.
How long have you been doing this?
Well itâ€™s around 6 years now. My first 3D experience was in 2004, as a junior 3D modeler at a glass engraving company in Hungary. My job was to create highly detailed 3D logos and artworks using 3D software. After that I moved to a post-production house in Hungary, doing mainly CGI and post works for 2 years. That is where I learned everything necessary for this business. I got an offer from Dubai, so I joined a new media agency, where I was able to let my experience grow with corporate movies, and architectural visualizations. That was in 2008. After I spent 1 year, I received an offer from my current workplace.
How did you find out about Xero Error / Levity?
Itâ€™s actually pretty simple. In 2008, when I moved to Dubai at my first workplace I met with my friend (in that time only a new colleague) Nizam Mohammed â€“ who also involved in Xero Error as a layout and HUD designer. He introduced me to a friend of his, namely director Ashraf Ghori, who was seeking volunteers to help with the production. Ashraf explained the story to me over coffee and I was very impressed and jumped right in. The story of Levity came later in the picture.
How do you feel about how Levity is doing at film festivals, and the exposure itâ€™s getting?
The same way I see it breaking the tradition of â€œGulf-madeâ€ movies. It has a unique, well-developed story, high-end finishing and also a visually different story-telling (thanks to Ashraf). With all of this, I think it reflects on the film-festivals. Unfortunately, I was present only at the Gulf Film Festival, but as I know it is the first animated film from the Gulf area, which was shortlisted and played in Cannes. Big whoaaa!
When do you come into the picture?
Ashraf decided to involve me mainly for my 3D compositing skills. So when all the modeled, animated, textured, lighted and rendered shots were ready, that was the point when I came into the picture. Ashraf kept bringing terabytes of rendered layers to my place. It seemed like it would never end. We spent days and nights to get the right direction on visual looks and effects.
Anything that was a challenge for you?
Yes. I did all that after my working hours. and in that period of time â€“ if I remember right â€“ it was a huge pressure on me, with a lot of overlapping projects at my workplace. But it was solved, and I think Levity didnâ€™t suffer.
How did you handle it?
With a lot of coffee and very busy weekends.
Anything you would do different?
I’m pretty impressed with the final results, but as everybody probably knows, there is no finished painting or artwork for the artist; there’s always something that needs to be fine-tuned. You need to let it go. But to answer the question, if we had 6 more months, then we would’ve been able to re-render some extra passes to add more details and fine-tuning, but besides that nothing else.
Lessons learned, if any?
Yeah, more preparation and planning on my side. Sometimes I underestimated how hard a shot was compositing-wise, so it caused long nights for us. But I learned my lesson.
Tell me about post production
Okay. As can be derived from its name, it means after production (shooting, director, actors, free food, etcâ€¦). If in this case a full cg animated movie, it is after creating the rendered sequences. All the scenes are divided into shots and shot elements (called plates). So every change that is happening with the visual data of the shots, is called post work. A few types of post works include:
An endless list.
Tell me about the rendering process
We need to separate the process in 2D and 3D renders. 3D rendering is the process to create a 2D image of a virtually built 3D environment via a virtual camera. So this synthesized image inherits the geometry, movements, shadings and scene light information regarding their setups built by the artist. I am talking about modeling, animation, shading, texturing and lighting. That is 3D rendering.
2D rendering is the process of taking all the layers of the 3D rendered images, and combining them to create the final image. For example you rendered a whole 3D environment into one layer and Xero Error character into another one. You can merge these layers to have XE7 in the environment. You can also change some information on him, because it is a separate layer. In the case of Levity we used a lot of different layers â€“ such as diffuse, direct lighting, GI, reflection, refraction, z-depth, motion-vectors etcâ€¦ – to keep the flexibility during the finalizing process.
What software and/or equipment did you use?
I used eyeon Digital Fusion node-based compositing system, because I am comfortable with it and keep the project files organized even when they’re growing big.
How does it feel to be a part of history for the 1st CG film from the UAE?
An example of Tamas’ work.
Ashraf Ghori presents an XPANSE CGI production "XERO ERROR" Directed by Ashraf Ghori Produced by Xpanse CGI.
All names and characters appearing in this film including Xero Error, XE7, Facet, Bushman, Retrospectre, ACYD, The Admin, Levity and Virtual Geographic © Xpanse CGI 2010. All rights reserved.