Muslims in Lebaon

Welcome to my Blog !!

Why did they revert to ISLAM ???
press on the link to read their stories...

Hello and Welcome ..

In Revert 2 Islam Blog you will find everything you need and I will try to make it as easy as possible

What do Muslims believe? click here

please if you have any suggestions or improvements let me know

You want to be a Muslim ..It is so simple

click here

email me at

5 minutes video introduction to islam click here

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Shrek and the Quest for Perfecting 3D Animation

rom Trichy to Tinseltown

Shrek and the Quest for Perfecting 3D Animation

Interviewed By Deepa Kandaswamy

The field of computer graphics (CG) and 3D animation has taken leaps and strides in recent years, not the least of which because of the work done to produce cutting edge animation movies.

In 2001, the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature was introduced for the first time by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to become part of the Oscars awards. Animated feature film Shrek won the first award.

As the third installment of the Shrek series is released,'s Deepa Kandaswamy talked with Vanitha Rangaraju-Ramanan about the different roles she played within the animation teams of the three Shrek movies. (IOL): Tell us about yourself — your family, place of birth, childhood, etc.

Vanitha Rangaraju: I was born and raised in Trichy, India. I did my schooling in Holy Cross Girl's School and higher secondary at St. Joseph's Convent. I did B. Arch [Bachelor of Architecture] at Regional Engineering College (REC), Trichy (now National Institute of Technology, Trichy or NITT). I have one younger sister, Vinotha, who lives in Dindugal, Tamil Nadu. She's the smart one, a gold medalist in BA economics, after which she got married and settled down. My parents still live in Trichy.

I currently live in San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California, US, with my husband Ramanan and daughter Ananya. We met when I was working in Bangalore. Got married in Trichy, and came to the US together to do our masters at the University of Texas, Austin.

IOL: What influenced you to take up your chosen field? Were you technically inclined as a child?

Rangaraju: I always had an inclination toward math and engineering in school. I loved the problem-solving aspect of it. Also, I enjoyed programming a lot when I was first introduced to it.

IOL: When and how did you become interested in animation? What made you decide to leave for the US?

Rangaraju: All those Tom and Jerry cartoons I watched when I was young inspired me. After I got my B. Arch degree, I was working in Bangalore when I saw this interview on TV just after Toy Story had come out in 1995 — the first full length 3D CG feature film! It was a very fascinating interview and they were talking about how people from many different fields contributed to the movie's creation. I have always loved animation, and that interview got me seriously thinking about entering that field. I knew I had to work very hard to get there, and I was willing to do it. So I left India in 1996 to do my master's in architectural studies (majoring in computation and simulation) at the University of Texas at Austin.

IOL: Moving from architecture to animation is a huge jump, isn't it? Did your friends and family support you in this endeavor?

Rangaraju: Yes, it is a huge jump. The people who helped me were the ones who didn't think it was silly for a professional architect to want to become an animator — my parents, my husband Ramanan whom I married just a few months before I started this crazy quest to go to the US to work on 3D animated movies, my friend Vidya, and family friends Babu and Kala.

IOL: How did you get into Pacific Data Imaging (PDI)?

Rangaraju: The field of feature animation is extremely competitive. Not only do you need the right qualifications, you also need the right attitude, and most of all you need is commitment to pursuing the dream. I was able to get an internship during the last semester (Fall 1998) at Industrial Light & Magic, the leading visual effects studio in Northern California. That was a big break. That gave me a chance to get my "foot in the door." Right after I completed my internship, I was to go back and finish my master's thesis at Austin University when I got the job as lighting technical director (TD) at PDI (now PDI/DreamWorks) to work on Shrek! They had just released Antz and started production on Shrek, so it was a great time to start my new job. This was in April 1999.

Before and after adding texture and lighting to Marty the Zebra surfing in the 2005 hit Madagascar (© PDI/DreamWorks)

IOL: What exactly does a lighting TD do?

Rangaraju: As a lighting technical director, in addition to digitally lighting the film, the lighting department is responsible for bringing the many different components of a shot together — complex geometry, motion of the characters, textures, the effects such as fire and dust, and the matte paintings. Technical directors are people who help make this happen, with both their artistic and technical abilities.

In addition to working as a lighting TD on Shrek, I was also a lighting animator on several shots, and co-developer of the "crowd system" for many sequences in the movie — like the swamp sequence where all the fairy tale creatures overrun Shrek's swamp, the tournament sequence where Shrek does the WWF-style fighting, and the final big Cathedral sequence. I also worked on the extended scenes for the DVD, and many Shrek commercials.

IOL: What was your Shrek experience like?

Rangaraju: Shrek is based on a book. And everyone when I say that immediately thinks it is this big book that has the whole story in there — kinda like Harry Potter. But no, the book Shrek was based on is about 10-pages long, out of which half the pages are pictures! In fact the only characters from the book are Shrek and the donkey. The rest were all developed by our own very talented story artists. You have probably heard it a million times but I'll say it one more time: It's all about the story. It's the story that drives everything; computer is just a medium that conveys it.

Shrek lives in a fantasy world, so the art directors came up with a multitude of environments that Shrek journeys through. Environments play an integral role in this movie, just as much as the characters that walk through them. There is a variety of complex environments in Shrek, ranging from the lush, green forests to the dark, scary dragon's keep. The richness and detail is achieved through some brilliant work on the part of the lighting department, visually enhancing the whole story.

Shrek is visually the most complex film of all time, in my opinion. It has all the natural elements that are so difficult to create in 3D animation — moving trees, water, mud, dust, crowds, etc. Plus it is a fun story, a bit of a departure from the mainstream animation we have seen so far. It plays at different levels to audiences of all ages. A 3-year-old enjoys the movie just as much as a 30-year-old or even a 70-year-old. And finally it has a message that touches everyone. To work on such a complex but extremely funny movie was a phenomenal experience. The team we had was great to work with, making it a very memorable two years.

IOL: What was your reaction when you heard Shrek won the Oscar for the technical work?

Rangaraju: Shrek actually won the Oscar as the Best Animated Feature. The technical achievement, which translated into making Shrek a visual success, also helped tremendously in getting the award, but the category was Best Animated Feature.

To answer the question, it felt great. Almost unreal. I am so happy to have been a part of this great team. It is so hard to believe! I still remember watching the Oscars in India six years ago, wondering how it would be to touch the statuette, to feel the appreciation of the entire world for your work on a movie. And I actually got to hold the statuette in my hands, when our producer Aron Warner returned with it to PDI. It was a wonderful feeling.

So many people whom I hadn't even kept in touch with wrote to me, congratulating. To me that's what makes it all worthwhile. I agree, it is special to be a part of the Oscar winning team, but it is made even more special when that makes your friends and family proud.

IOL: How does it feel to be the only Indian woman to have won a technical Oscar?

Rangaraju: It's a pretty great feeling. I've to reiterate that this Oscar was given for the entire team that worked on the movie. But I was the only Indian woman on the crew, so that is pretty special.

IOL: Could you please tell us how it was to work on Shrek 2? How was it different from the first Shrek? Was it easier or tougher?

Rangaraju: From Shrek to Shrek 2 — wow, it was a few years ago. I'll see what I can remember. Shrek crew definitely tried to raise the bar across the board on Shrek 2. We wanted to push the envelope to deliver something entirely new for the audiences.

The most important technological breakthroughs on Shrek 2 are Global Illumination (GI) and subsurface scattering (SSS). GI simulated the light bouncing around in real world from one surface to another. Instead of using many directional lights, a single GI pass lit and brought a lot of richness to the scene. SSS added realistic translucency to the skin by simulating the light scattering within.

Rendering realistic hair was another challenge with so many human characters. Since all of the characters' hair amounts to virtual wigs, an actual wigmaker came in to show the team how wigs are made and gave us an idea of the color and texture that make up various hairstyles. We were the "hairstylists" who needed to understand the various properties of hair when it is curly or straight, long or short, wet or dry, etc. I worked on kings, queens, and many generic character hairstyles during the visual development period of Shrek 2. King Harold was particularly tough, being almost white. It needed to look soft and hair-like but at the same time cartoony because of the design. It was great to work on.

IOL: Now tell us about the difference working in Shrek 2 and Shrek the Third?

Rangaraju: Shrek the Third's production was like a well-oiled machine! The crew has so much experience now, and is unfazed by challenging situations. We've come to expect it in all the Shrek movies. Shrek the Third, of course, has many, many more new characters per shot, and many with long hair/braids, huge crowds with enormous variety, and rich clothing; the list goes on. It was definitely more challenging and pushed the envelope of CG even more!

IOL: How does your workload and technically what is the difference between your various titles — first lighting director, lighting lead, and now crowd lead? Can you explain in greater detail?

Rangaraju: As a lighting TD, I was involved with the technical side of lighting department more than the visual side of lighting shot. As a lighting lead, I was setting the visual tone of a sequence that the production lighters would then take and propagate. As the crowd lead, I was in charge of all things crowd-related in the movie — animation cycles, crowd fx [special effects] simulation, surfacing shadier trees, and so on — a total departure from my previous roles. I enjoy newer, bigger challenges, so I try to do something different on each show. I am sure I will be trying a new role on Shrek 4 as well!

IOL: Do you think it is easier for architects to make the leap to animation than say a mechanical engineer?

Rangaraju: Animation is such a vast field with people from various backgrounds. It is still a visual medium, so architects may have an edge over a mechanical engineer, but there are various areas where an engineer could contribute as well.

IOL: Which is your favorite character in Shrek?

Rangaraju: I like so many of them though Puss 'n Boots tops the list. He has such an attitude about him for such a little cat that he is totally loveable!

IOL: Please tell us about your future projects — any new movies?

Rangaraju: Currently we are working on a number of cool projects, from The Bee Movie to Madagascar: The Crate Escape. (I am on Madagascar: The Crate Escape). The details of the various upcoming shows are on our DreamWorks Animation website.

IOL: Do you have any words of advice for young people who wish to pursue a career in animation?

Rangaraju: The field of feature animation is extremely competitive. Not only do you need the right qualifications, you also need the right attitude, and most of all you need commitment to pursue the dream.

If you aspire to be a motion animator, you need to develop your acting skills. If you want to be a modeler or a character-rigging artist, you need to have a good understanding of anatomy. If your interest is on the lighting side of the pipeline, you need a good eye for color, form, shadows, etc.; so photography, cinematography, stage lighting, etc., help more. There are many schools offering courses specifically designed towards computer animation now. There are many degree programs as well. A good combination of strong foundation skills with relevant education guarantees a great start in the field of computer animation. Of course nothing is more valuable than having some experience working in a CG company, so I always encourage students to look for internship opportunities there.

No comments:

logical Comparison between Islam and Christianity

Profile of the authors and the owner (Slave of Allah)

truth seekers only