E=MC2 Digital FX in Transition
By Jon Fontenot
E=MC2 digital has been known in the past as a one stop shop for video effects. Currently this group headed by Bob and Linda Morgenroth has credits that include "Austin Powers I," Leslie Neilson's "Spy Hard," "Twister," and "Wag the Dog" among others. In fact this is one of the companies working on the new "Dune Miniseries" on the Sci-Fi channel due December 3, 4, and 5.
"'Video Effects' refer mainly to 24 frame computer and video playback on-set in feature films and television projects." Says Morgenroth." We're currently known for being the only place that carries the responsibilities of shooting the video, editing the video, converting the video to 24 frame, providing a large selection of 24 frame monitors, creating the computer graphics for 24 frame computers to play back on set, and then providing the technical operators on the set to play all materials back."
On speaking about how E=MC2 Digital has moved into the leading film FX industry Morgenroth said, "One thing led to another when we started doing computer graphics for playback. We generally never learned to say "no" when asked if we could do something, and when some of our clients asked if we could do visual effects as well, we said "sure", and promptly found some of our talented associates who could help us to keep our reputation intact by shoring up our inexperienced areas with their strengths. One successful project always led to another. By making associations with other like-minded professionals, we can provide a client with far more depth of expertise in many more effects areas than any one company could ever do at a reasonable pricing level."
When asked about the differences in work flow between FPS and Digital FX Paul LeBlanc, E=MC2 CGI Supervisor said; "With "Playback Graphics" (FPS) each scene is broken down by the various computers/monitors that will be used for the particular scene. Then the graphics are storyboarded on paper, and designed with the specific computer/monitor combination in mind. For example, we would design the playback graphic of say a "VOICE RECOGNITION SYSTEM" for playback on a laptop different than for playback on a desktop machine with 384 megs of ram and a huge monitor. After the initial design phase, and we have a working 'prototype' (often this 'prototype' is nearly the final version, and in some cases is the final version), which we upload to our E=MC2 client site as a QuickTime movie for changes and approvals. The client is able to view the work at their convenience, and get back to us with comments."
LeBlanc continues; "The workflow for our Digital FX is really no different. We like to keep things simple, and we try to adhere to a pipeline model established by some very smart people at another FX house who were kind enough to share. But the actual pipeline we agreed not to talk too much about. In this biz, competition is fierce and every little edge counts!"
On the tools of the trade, LeBlanc breaks it down into two groups as far as favorites are concerned FPS and Digital FX. LeBlanc says, "Our FPS tools include Cinema4Dxl, PhotoShop 5.5, Adobe Illustrator, After Effects with a boat-load of plugins, Macromedia Director and of course the web!" and on Digital FX? "Our favorites are 3dsMax, Digital Fusion Post and with the 5D Monster plugs, After Effects, Elastic Reality and of course PhotoShop 5.5. We have a number of other tools, but these are the workhorses of our studio.
"On DUNE, another E=mc2 Digital team member," says Morgenroth, "Digital Firepower, will be doing all the digital matte paintings for the vast palace and planetary backgrounds, and our artists will enhance them and do some of the composting.
You can visit E=MC2 at www.emc2visfx.com