Lakeshore Entertainment’s horror thriller “The Cave” opens in North American movie theaters today. The movie’s principal visual effects (VFX) supplier,
Luma Pictures, delivered more than 200 VFX shots — Luma’s largest effort to date — and many of them were created using a Macintosh-based workflow, according to the company.
Visual effects houses have historically eschewed the Mac platform for large-scale film work, according to Luma, but the combination of the Mac OS X platform’s stability and Mac versions of tools like Shake are now making Mac OS X a viable platform for film production work.
To that end, Luma collaborated with Apple and several software vendors to set up a Mac-based production environment. The company ended up with about 60 Power Mac G5-based workstations, a “render farm” comprising Xserve G5s, and about 17 terabytes (TB) of storage.
All of the 3D work was done using Alias’ Maya software, according to a Luma spokesperson who spoke with
. Compositing was done using Apple’s Shake software and Autodesk’s Combustion. Rendering was accomplished using Mental Images’ Mental Ray software. All of the software was used on Macs.
“We concluded that Mac OS X was best suited to the way our artists work, and it has turned out great,” said Luma Pictures visual effects supervisor Payam Shohadai.
Luma has previously worked on features including Into the Blue, a Lot Like Love, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and Crash.
Luma is presently working on the sequel to the vampire flick Underworld, “Underworld: Evolution.”
Featuring Cole Hauser and Lena Headey, PG-13-rated The Cave tells the story of a team of explorers who visit an underwater cave network hidden beneath the Earth’s surface in Romania. The explorers quickly discover that the caves are inhabited by nightmarish, bloodthirsty creatures.
The underground segments of the movie were shot on location in Mexico and in a giant water tank in Romania. It was Luma’s job to produce 3D of the creatures and 3D set extensions to help give the sense that the cave network was much larger than the existing set and budget would have allowed.
The creature effects in the movie combined actors wearing articulated body suitsw for closeup effects and 3D shots. “Once the director saw the level of detail and realism that Luma was able to achieve with the CG creature model, the decision was made to add VFX shots to showcase the creature even more frequently,” said Luma in a statement.
A QuickTime trailer of
is available for viewing on Apple’s Web site.
Updated 1:50PM 8/26/05: Added information about Mac software used by Luma.