“First Life” by Bair

  • ©John Bair  Edgeworx



    First Life




Company / Institution / Agency:

  • Edgeworx


    An animated exploration of the probable course of events that transformed a molten rock on the edge of a galaxy into an Earth teeming with microscopic life. In a blend of three complex camera moves, the film traces our origins through massive changes in scale ranging from the entire Milky Way down to a single molecular reaction, all combined in a synthesis of scientific accuracy and picturesque aesthetics. While primarily CGI, the visual effects in “First Life” utilize a blend of animation with the practical photographic special effects employed by early science fiction films. Water tank and ink effects were used to create some of the billowing volcanic smoke and atmospherics, and fluorescent-dyed oatmeal pouring over greenscreen was photographed and manipulated to produce lifelike lava flows.


    HARDWARE: PC/Intel dual 1.7 GHz CPU, 1.5 GB RAM. Rendering farm: 10 CPUs.
    Graphics card: Fire GL X1.


    SOFTWARE DEVELOPER: Modeling, animation, rendering, and dynamics: 3ds max 5.1.
    Compositing: After Effects 5.5. Additional software: Adobe
    Photoshop 7.0. OS: Windows 2000 Pro.

Additional Contributors:

    Producer: Joseph Cortina
    Content Director: Amy L. Maddox
    Graphics Producer: Tai Uhlmann
    Project Manager: Kathleen Bober
    Writer: Lorraine Markus
    Assistant 3D Animator: Nathan Meier

Additional Information:

    Modeling: standard box modeling with polygons. Extensive 2D roto- scoping was used to extract some of the practical elements that were shot on DV. Rendering technique used most: 3ds max default scanline renderer. Average CPU time for rendering per frame: approx- imately five minutes. Total production time: two months. Production highlight: Shooting some of the smoke and lava elements as practical effects was a nice alternative to using excessive amounts of 3D parti- cles. The snippets of practicals also helped to add an organic tinge to the extensive CG environments.

Animation / Video Overview: