Interested in making Indie games?

Register for a Meet the Experts webinar with Digital-Tutors today!
  • 1/3
You are here: Homepage /  inHouse /  Behind the Screenz / PLATIGE: City of Ruins
PLATIGE: City of Ruins
 
 
Posted: Oct 12, 2010
Published by: the area
Homepage: Visit the page
Software: Autodesk 3ds Max
Social Media:
Bookmark and Share
 1920x1080
The Area:
Platige Image is an award-winning studio based in Warsaw, Poland. And so it would seem only appropriate that they were chosen to work on the recreation of the capital city, which lay in smouldering ruins back in 1944 during the Warsaw Uprising when German Luftwaffe bombed it to the ground. Here on the AREA, Platige Image's CG supervisor Michal Gryn is with us to talk about their work on "Miasto Ruin" (City of Ruins) -- a five-minute animated film created in collaboration with the Warsaw Rising Museum.
Thanks for taking time out to chat with us, Michal. Now, "City of Ruins" was certainly a big project to take on. The challenge to recreate the entire city of Warsaw, and to recreate it in a state of destruction – what was the first thought on your mind when Platige got the contract for this project?
Michał:
“This can’t be done! Reconstruction of a whole city? Nobody has ever done that before.” These were the first thoughts. They were followed by next, technical doubts about the project. For instance, how to render millions of polygons that digital Warsaw would contain?
 1920x1080
The Area:
Of course, you and the team must have gone through a large amount of reference material in anticipation for the work that lay ahead. Were you guys emotionally and technically prepared for it?
Michał:
We went through gigantic amount of archival materials – photos and films describing Warsaw during and after wartime. On top of that, everyone who worked on the project was recommended to read Władysław Bartoszewski’s book “1859 days of Warsaw” describing life in the city during the uprising in 1944.
At the very beginning of the work, we conducted tests involving reconstruction of the most important landmark objects. We determined the level of details, technical parameters of rendering, reconstruction of the terrain and visualization of the Wistula River.
 1920x1080
 1920x1080
The Area:
What was the timeline that Platige was given to complete the "City of Ruins"?
Michał:
The film was produced over two years. One year was mainly spent with the Museum of Warsaw Rising’s work in gathering all archival materials. The year after was Platige Image team’s work to do the actual reconstruction.
The Area:
Altogether, how many artists were working on the CG for this film?
Michał:
There were 30 people working on the project at various different stages.
The Area:
Looking at the trailer, asides from the skeletons of buildings, we can observe various street fixtures from a distance, like lampposts for example. How far was the level of detail pushed to in this animated film?
Also, to get a better idea of that level of detail you are talking about, what were the resolution of the textures for things like walls, buildings, ground/terrain, etc…
Michał:
The level of detail was established after several tests for each type of object. It was done based on the photo database describing Warsaw, the referential flight that we did to make sure what was the visibility of particular buildings for the “Liberator” pilot flying at a certain speed and at the normal height. The objects contained usually 10-12 thousand polygons with a texture of 2048x2048 pixels.
 1920x1080
 1920x1080
The Area:
There is also a stereoscopic version of "City of Ruins", which undoubtedly intensifies the experience of watching the devastation that took place. Can you share with us a bit about the setup that was used?
Michał:
“City of Ruins” was the project where stereoscopic effect was reached based on 2D source material. We used a combination of techniques to do stereoscopic setting. Firstly, we used anaglyph method to preliminarily set the visual disparity of the picture. It enabled us to efficiently establish the center of parallax and the range of space we would use. Then, we used shutter polarization method. Contrary to anaglyph method it doesn’t change the quality through the color filter. That gave us control over the level of detail visible in the film. We had also wider possibility to set the picture for each eye. Finally we used Zdepth maps as an element of picture disparity control. The maps were prepared in 3ds Max. In “City of Ruins” we observe city from a distance – and that itself was enough to get the effect of depth illusion. Stereoscopy helped us to enhance the impression of space and depth.
The Area:
Warsaw, the capital city, is over 500 square kilometers in size – which equates to many streets, buildings, automobiles, and everything else that makes for a buzzing metropolis. Organizing and keeping track of so many assets must have been a daunting task – can you tell us what was used to manage the library of models, scene files, materials, textures, scripts, etc. that were created for this project?
Michał:
It was indeed a challenge. We had about 200 unique models and around 10GB of textures. It’s a huge amount considering that it is a relatively short film. We used our own pipeline to manage the data.
 1920x1080
 1920x1080
The Area:
And once you had all the assets completed, can you describe to us the process of assembling all the buildings and environments together for final render?
Michał:
After all objects were prepared, we had to put them in the map. Having such a big area to fill it was impossible to do in one set. That’s why we divided the city into 96 sectors. Using plane photos from 1945 and 1947, we started to fill every sector. The main challenge at this stage was to make the borders between sectors invisible for the viewer. We decided to prepare separate textures for each sector and keep them adjusted to the neighboring ones.
Next problem arose while rendering. The number of polygons in one scene made it impossible for us to render everything in one strip. That’s why we grouped a few areas to render and composited them separately. Finally, we composited all sectors together.
 1500x879
The Area:
Can you tell us what apps were used in this particular production pipeline?
Michał:
We used various types of software. For modeling, animation and rendering it was 3ds Max. Adobe Photoshop was used for texturing. Rendering used additionally was VRay 1.5. Compositing was done in Adobe After Effects and Nuke.
The Area:
What is the final resolution of the film, and the time taken for rendering an average frame?
Michał:
Considering the requirements of the Museum exhibition, “City of Ruins” was done in HD resolution. Rendering time varied, but average time for one frame rendering was around 2 hours. The whole film was rendered in two months on several computers.
 1920x1080
The Area:
How was the animation of the aerial camera going over the city achieved?
Michał:
At the preparation stage, Film Director Damian Nenow and the main creative crew did a referential flight over present Warsaw. Video material from that flight was crucial to the planning of the main parameters of the flight in “City of Ruins”. It was also important in planning the camera movements in the film. We also used authentic documents from “Liberator” flights and from our list of main landmark objects. The animation gives the impression of authentic movements of the plane, complete with its limited visibility.
The Area:
For the immense effort put into digitizing the city in ruins, what was the decision behind having the film run at five minutes in length?
Michał:
Since the real flight over such area would take about 5 minutes, we decided that it would be the length of the film itself.
The Area:
Michał, what were your immediate responsibilities as CG Supervisor in the production of the "City of Ruins"?
Michał:
My main task was to lead the group of 30 artists. It involved organising their work, giving particular tasks, checking the progress and helping in the most crucial moments. I had to make sure that each object has the agreed level of detail. I also divided the city into sectors and overlooked their matching into one picture, which involved coherent lighting and afterwards, rendering.
 1920x1080
The Area:
Additionally, you are also credited with Set Assembly and Rendering in the film. Having worked directly on the “City of Ruins”, were there any custom tools that were specifically developed during the course of making this film?
Michał:
Apart from leading the team, I also did some particular tasks. One of them was river and smoke simulation. The other, a model of a particular object with texture. We thought of a special script to put the ready-made objects in the terrain, but we resigned after preliminary tests. The best results given were by placing all the objects manually. It was huge work, but I admit it was worth it.
The Area:
As with all productions, unexpected hurdles and problems arise. What were the biggest issues that the team came across?
Michał:
I think the biggest problems were technical – we had to put huge amount of objects in one scene. Once I divided the city into sectors – it was much easier. We filled each sector separately and then joined them together. This of course involved a lot of attention to make sure that the sectors themselves are invisible for the viewer. 96 pieces put together had to look like one city.
 1920x1080
The Area:
Working in collaboration with the Warsaw Rising Museum, did they drive the overall project or was Platige given free reign to achieve the visual look of the film?
Michał:
Museum was involved throughout all production process, but there were areas and stages of the work where we had naturally a lot of freedom to decide how to proceed. First of all, it was Museum’s responsibility to deliver all archival materials. They did it splendidly and it wasn’t an easy task. Then they recommended two historical consultants who were present at every stage of making the reconstruction. They specialize in Warsaw history so their knowledge helped us a lot. Finally, Museum organized the referential flight – essential to establish all parameters of camera movement.
These three elements were crucial to make good development of the film. Later on we had of course complete freedom in organizing production, all technical decisions were naturally our responsibility.
At the end, we decided together on the color version and sound. The main production decisions were agreed between Piotr Śliwowski (Warsaw Rising Museum) and Marcin Kobylecki, Producer from our side.
 1920x1080
The Area:
For those of us unable to make the trip to the Warsaw Rising Museum, how/where can we see the animated film in full?
Michał:
The film is exhibited in the Museum of course. The Museum also has promotional and distribution plan for the film. I’m sure they will try to show it as widely as possible, but I don’t have the details of the plan.

Thanks for your time, Michal and congratulations to the whole Platige team on creating such an incredibly powerful and moving experience.

ADDITIONAL IMAGES

 2000x1125
 2000x1125
 2000x1125
 2000x1125
 2000x1125
 2000x1125
 2000x1125
 2000x1125
 2000x1125

ADDITIONAL LINK

Comments
My Comment:
Notify me of follow-up comments?
Newest users comments View All 5 Comments
Posted by obiwandk on Nov 19, 2012 at 06:24 PM
damm that is one mean job
Posted by icetears on Sep 12, 2012 at 06:22 PM
really very nice and very cool .
amazing.
cute baby
Posted by CosmicGirl on Oct 20, 2010 at 07:10 PM
wyglada super
Posted by Jacob Allgayer on Oct 19, 2010 at 09:47 AM
*****
Posted by RedCobra on Oct 13, 2010 at 08:33 AM
Seriously, im speechless, very amazing!