Digital Anvil Using Alias|Wavefront's Maya to Create Entire Wing Commander Movie Universe
TORONTO (October 19, 1998) -- Alias|Wavefront today announced that entertainment company Digital Anvil is using the company's MayaTM 3D modeling and animation software for the upcoming movie, Wing Commander. The Maya technology is being used to create 260 computer-generated effects, equaling an entire outer-space environment. Digital Anvil chose Maya for the project because it was the best available software in terms of productivity and the quality of the final rendered images, according to facility producer, Eric Alba.
Wing Commander is a live-action drama directed by Digital Anvil CEO and founder Chris Roberts, who created the highly popular Wing Commander computer game series. The movie, which combines state-of-the-art, sci-fi visual effects with elements of a classic World War II film, is based on story-lines, characters and other creative elements from the first four games in the Wing Commander series. Production designer Peter Lamont, who received an Academy Award for his art direction work on James Cameron's Titanic, has created a retro-future world for the Wing Commander movie that includes extraordinary spaceships, the hangar deck of an intergalactic spacecraft carrier, and a number of other immersive alien and confederate environments.
Digital Anvil fully expects Lamont's work on Wing Commander to be of the same award-winning quality as what he did for Titanic. "Judging from the astounding visuals that he has created for Wing Commander, Lamont's Titanic Oscar may only be his first," said Marten Davies, president of Digital Anvil. Digital Anvil is using Maya to ensure that the world Lamont envisions is as stunning in the final product as it is in concept. "The images rendered in Maya are absolutely beautiful," said Alba. "They are the most realistic we have ever seen."
Digital Anvil has hired a team of accomplished professionals, formerly of award-winning companies such as Boss Films, Rhythm & Hues and Digital Domain, to bring Lamont's vision to the screen, entirely in 3D and entirely using Maya. This esteemed team of sequence supervisors includes Chris Olivia, Steve Cummings, Eric Tablada, Mike McNeil, and Mark Lambert. Artists started building preproduction models last fall, when the company participated in Alias/Wavefront's extensive beta testing program for the new software. Alba said, "Committing to a 1.0 release of a program in any capacity can be a risk, and for a feature film, where time is money, it could be suicidal. But we had beta tested Maya and knew it was the best out there. We've had great support from Alias|Wavefront, and the first release of Maya has performed exceptionally well. There is no question that Maya is the best way to go for this movie."
High Productivity Required
Digital Anvil has a relatively small group of 20 artists working on this huge project, so maximizing productivity is vital. Maya was designed to boost productivity, through its user interface, the integration of its tools, and the ease with which it can be customized. Digital Anvil is taking advantage of all of these features to meet the release date for Wing Commander.
The Maya user interface lets the artists work in whatever way they are most comfortable. Explained Chris Olivia, visual effects artist at Digital Anvil, "We have a lot of people who are working together for the first time, and everyone has his own way of doing things. Maya's interface is flexible enough for all of us." Artists who have used other modeling and animation programs appreciate the intuitive nature of the Maya interface, according to Olivia. "It takes fewer steps to produce something in Maya, and it's easier to move around in it quickly, thanks to things like user-configurable Marking Menus," he said.
Maya's unmatched integration is another feature of the software that enhances productivity. All the tools the artists need are available within Maya-modeling, animation, lighting, and particle generation. No time is wasted moving data between programs. "Maya is built for people like us who are doing visual effects," said Olivia. "It has everything we need and everything is easily accessible."
Digital Anvil has taken advantage of the ability to customize Maya to simplify recurrent tasks, such as having missiles fire from different space ships. Using the Maya scripting and command language, MEL (Maya Embedded Language), Digital Anvil created a script that causes a window to appear on the screen when an artist wants to launch a missile. After he enters a few parameters, Maya automatically creates the animation sequence that causes a missile to fire. Scripts such as this contribute to productivity by freeing artists from repetitive tasks.
Headquartered in Austin, TX, Digital Anvil is an entertainment company specializing in the fusion of silicon and celluloid. In addition to creating innovative, bleeding-edge, interactive computer games, and movies with star power and mass-market appeal, Digital Anvil is also a digital production house creating state-of-the-art visual effects. Founded by Chris Roberts, creator of the best-selling Wing Commander series, Digital Anvil has a top creative team from the game and film industries, and key marketing and equity partnerships with industry leaders Microsoft and Advanced Micro Devices. Digital Anvil can be found on the Web at http://www.digitalanvil.com.
Alias|Wavefront provides artists with advanced computer graphics software that helps unleash the power of their creativity. As the world's leading innovator of 2D and 3D graphics technology, Alias|Wavefront develops software for the film and video, games, interactive media, industrial design and visualization markets. Alias|Wavefront's film and video customers include Bluesky/VIFX, Cinesite, CNN, Digital Domain, Dream Pictures Studio, Dream Quest Images, Industrial Light + Magic, NBC, Pixar, Sony Pictures Imageworks, The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. Games and interactive media developers include Acclaim, CAPCOM, Electronic Arts, Iguana Entertainment, Interplay, Kronos Digital Entertainment, NAMCO, Nintendo, SEGA, Sony Interactive, Square, Virtual Worlds Entertainment and Williams/Bally Midway.
With headquarters in Toronto, Alias|Wavefront is a wholly owned, independent software subsidiary of Silicon Graphics, Inc. Alias|Wavefront has worldwide distribution via a network of Channel Partners and sales offices located in North America, Europe and Asia. For more information on products, readers can access Alias|Wavefront's website at www.aw.sgi.com. Readers in North America can also call 800-447-2542 for the location of the nearest sale office or Channel Partner in their area.
Alias is a registered trademark, and Alias|Wavefront, the Alias|Wavefront logo and Maya are trademarks, of Alias|Wavefront, a division of Silicon Graphics Limited. Silicon Graphics and the Silicon Graphics logo are registered trademarks of Silicon Graphics, Inc.