Friday, May 23, 2008

Avalanche Special Effects from Disney's 'Mulan'

As a special effects animator on Disney's Mulan, I was given the task of animating quite a few scenes in the avalanche sequence. The sequence was shared between several animators, but the bulk of the most dramatic scenes where the avalanche races down the side of the mountain, were animated by myself and Garret Wren. There was an incredible amount of detail to contend with, as there were hundreds of CGI horses and riders galloping in every which direction. Every single horse had a trail of hoof prints following behind, as well as snow kicking up, and full cast shadows. From scene to scene we had to switch from CGI horses to hand-drawn horses for the close up scenes. The snow effects were painstaking hand-drawn and animated to match the Chinese styling of the film, with spiral accents and a water colour look to the final renders. Many of the scenes were animated entirely on one's, that is to say 24 drawings per second, and on 24 field paper, which are enormous sheets of paper, to give the drawings as much detail as possible. It was not uncommon for the clean up effects artists to spend an entire day on one drawing!

Almost a full year of incredibly painstaking work spread out among dozens of people went into this epic animated sequence, a modern masterpiece of special effects animation.

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