Real Image Production has recently made several strategic moves aimed at giving it a greater international presence while also enabling it to focus on developing 3D stereoscopic animation projects from its home base in Dubai. BroadcastPro ME looks at a work in progress Production and post production firm Real Image is one of the few […]
Real Image Production has recently made several strategic moves aimed at giving it a greater international presence while also enabling it to focus on developing 3D stereoscopic animation projects from its home base in Dubai. BroadcastPro ME looks at a work in progress
Production and post production firm Real Image is one of the few companies in Dubai to embark on 3D stereoscopic animation projects in the region. It is presently in the process of developing a five-minute 3D stereo animation video for Dolphin Energy.
The corporate video, which is aimed at creating awareness about Dolphins energy initiatives while entertaining young viewers, is being created to have a cinematic look and feel, according to Aiham Ajib, creative director and CEO of Real Image.
This is our fifth 3D stereo project, says Ajib.
When we were working our first project, we had the opportunity to learn from the masters of 3D, which is the production house in Los Angeles that was involved in the production of Avatar. It was a TV commercial. They were in charge of the production while we did the post production. I was on set the whole time to ensure that there would be no hitches in post. Since then, we have worked on a handful of 3D stereo projects successfully including a TVC for Dubai Bus.
In this case, the brief was to produce a corporate video for Dolphin Energy for young minds. Real Image was responsible for translating the client brief into a 3D audio visual experience.
This process normally includes creatively developing the base storyline before structuring it into a storyboard, shooting board, characters design, and narrative. Much of the creative process happens at this PREP stage before we proceed to realise our ideas on film or animation. For this project, we have been very ambitious and gone for a cinematic look and feel, which is a lot more difficult to achieve because it requires more skill and more time unlike the standard TV animation series but with each 3D project, we have been pushing the boundaries. We have not taken the standard approach. Theres a lot more attention to detail. If you look at the skin tones of the character and the way lighting has been applied to each scene, they are very film like and make the characters look real and believable.
While many of the rules remain the same for all formats, 3D is more fussy, adds Pierre Nayagam, head of post production at Real Image, implying that producing 3D requires greater care at the creation stage to ensure that the viewer has a pleasant experience.
3D stereo production is completely unforgiving in that both images being projected to each eye must be the exact representation of each other aside from the perspective shift that occurs naturally due to the separation of our own eyes. The fact that everything must be perfect makes stereo 3D an arduous task at best. A colour shift in the picture or a slight rotation on one camera which would, otherwise, not be noticeable could render the audience thinking they are cross eyed, or worse, make them queasy, Nayagam says.
Creative director Ajib adds that the one big and real rule changer regarding 3D stereo which we consider during PREP is whether we want a visual element to stand outside the screen or inside the screen which, in turn, allows us to control the audiences attention to specific elements in the film.
Although Real Image does not have any 3D specialists on board, Ajib says his team has learnt the rules of 3D through trial and error. There are several dos and donts which we have had to learn through trial and error and theres no greater teacher than experience. Since then, we have become laboriously disciplined in crafting and perfecting our 3D work.
Real Image presently has about 50 staff members. Fourteen years ago, the company launched its operations in Dubai primarily as a post production house but over the years, it has become a complete solution provider for production and post production services including 3D stereoscopic film and animation.
In this case, as we walk into Real Image, we see more than 18 members of the team working on various elements of the Dolphin Energy project. In one corner, two artists create 3D models of Dolphin Energys plants from snapshots taken from different angles; a third artist puts finishing touches to a falcon, while a fourth creates the desert landscape and another works on the sea. We see various artists working on different elements of the characters in the film, who are mainly a father and his son. One artist works on modelling the characters and other animates the father and the son while still another works on perfecting the boys hairstyle and we see elements being added to a fish bowl in another corner.
To an outsider, this looks like a puzzle and it is but we have a very sophisticated though complex pipeline, where each person is responsible for different parts of the project, and once the different pieces of modelling, texturing and animating are done, we bring them all together.
Real Image has also always claimed to be a Maya user and most of its work over the years has been created with this software.
Its always been Maya although some bits and pieces are being done on 3D Max. But we also have a large hardware and software resource centre including a powerful render farm to deliver extremely high quality visuals in HDTV in stereo with Discreet Logic Smoke as our backbone suite. Besides the Dolphin Energy project, we are also rolling out a number of other stereo projects so we ensure our equipment can keep up with the work we are doing. Every two years, we upgrade all our hardware. We have worked with Autodesk and Boxx distributor MediaSys for many years now to provide most of our post production solutions, adds Ajib.
Even as Real Image readies itself to deliver the five-minute video in a couple of weeks to the client, the company is also bidding for projects in Canada through its newly launched Canadian office, which is presently manned by three people.
In fact, we see an artist modelling a scientist at the Dubai office.
We are working on a pilot project now that I intend to sell to broadcasters in Canada and the North American markets. We have hired international script writers, who work with children in Canada to support us on this project, says Ajib, adding that US $300,000 has already been invested in the project.
We are making a 26-episode series of 11 minutes each for this project. People wonder why Im making products for an international market. The truth is, we have proved ourselves time and time again in this market but we have noticed that broadcasters do not have enough budget here to support the quality we provide. Unfortunately, quality costs money and I cannot really create cheap products to suit lower budgets. Canadian and North American markets have budgets that match the high quality of work we do so we have decided to set up office there as well.
By taking the lead in the market to produce 3D animation and expanding to different markets, Real Image is hoping that he can generate enough revenue to reinvest in the Middle East.