the year 3028 and Earth has been destroyed. The only key to saving the
human race is held in a legendary spacecraft called The Titan. What’s
a superhero to do?
Well our main man, Cale, who was precocious enough to have escaped Earth’s
destruction at the age of five, sets out to find the Titan,
of course, and along the way, has to learn to drive a spacecraft to
get around town.
His first driving lesson is a 3.5-minute sequence done by Hollywood-based
Reality Check Studios.
“I had a relationship with David Dozoretz, head of animatic
at LucasFilm, who took time off in between Star Wars projects
to work on Titan AE,” explains Kory Jones, co-founder of
Reality Check Studios (RCS). “They liked what he did so well that
they gave him the final shot, then gave him some more sequences. I went
up to work with them because they were so overloaded.”
first project assigned to RCS was the animatics for a sequence called
“Wake Angels.” Once the animatics were approved, they were assigned
the final shot.
“The sequence is the ship flying through a nebula and during his
first time flying, he plays “tag” with these creatures called Wake Angels,”
says Jones. “The environment itself was the tricky part. Creating
a nebula is quite nebulous.”
Jones said the nebula had to be self-luminated, yet luminated by stars
on either end of the travel path. It had to be opaque enough for there
to be pieces to dodge, yet translucent enough not to look like fire
or seem threatening. It had to have a cloud-like quality, and be
“Throw all those together and you get this indefinable thing that
took a lot of experimentation to identify a technique,” says Jones.
“We did a lot of experimenting with particle effects with Maya
and wrote some of our own rendering applications to do the shaded solid-body
said he took polygon shapes rendered in ElectricImage and did
the necessary number of layers, then did a lot of work in Adobe
“We began to build the nebula like an oil painting, layers for the
light from the stars, layers for the color, layers for transparency
then a displacement layer that took the edges off the columns to give
them that cloud-like feel,” he says.
The Wake Angels themselves began as models that came from Fox
Animation. “We added motion in Maya and did some work on the
look of the material. The biggest experiment with the Wake Angels was
the motion. We wanted them fluid, like a marine animal in motion. We
put ripples on their edges and their wings now go up or down depending
on their angle.”
Significant to RCS is that, while it has an extensive portfolio, Titan
AE is their first foray into feature film work.
“We had planned to start a film department but were waiting for the
right opportunity,” says Jones. “Now that we have a film in our
portfolio, we’ll push to do more both from a pre-visualization stage
all the way to the final effects.”
He says the tools are rather agnostic and it doesn’t matter what project
they’re doing. They use the Adobe Suite, Alias|Wavefront’s Maya, and
Play’s Electric Image. “Having Maya to fall back on was a huge benefit
for organic animation,” he says. “I don’t think there is anything
better out there. We started using it last year and the build-up time
paid off for this project.”