“Tippett Studio Creates Machine City in “The Matrix: Revolutions”” by Wachowski and Wachowski

  • ©Larry Wachowski and Andy Wachowski  Tippett Studio


SIGGRAPH Video Review:




    Tippett Studio Creates Machine City in “The Matrix: Revolutions”




Company / Institution / Agency:

  • Tippett Studio


    Guided by Tippett Studio senior visual effects supervisor, CraigHayes, Tippett Studio created the Machine City sequence by building not only a vast, living, breathing cityscape environment, but also its varied menagerie of machine inhabitants. The city, envisioned as a living fractal reef, was twice the size of the Los Angeles basin andalive in every aspect: building itself on the fly, populated with massive swarms of denizens, pulsing with lighting, electrostatic events and atmospherics. Even the massive towers appear sentient in their slow purposeful movements as they track events within the city.

    City architecture was laid out both procedurally and by hand, using the building blocks of a component model library to construct organi-cally rich and diverse crustacean-like buildings, all upon the scorched and fractured terrain typical of the Matrix’s real world. Roiling clouds,lightning, electrostatics, ground pollution, and bioluminescence are a few of the 3D environmental elements stretching back 50 miles to the horizon. Dozens of species of denizens were created to inhabit this city, from the very petite to the imposing Machine God, modeled on the Wachowski Brothers’ baby nephew. Each of the 140-plus shots contains at least 25 elements; many contain more than 125.


    HARDWARE: PC, Apple, SGI single CPU, average 2 GB RAM. Rendering Farm:
    CPU numbers N.A. Graphics card: NVIDIA.


    SOFTWARE DEVELOPER: Modeling, animation, and dynamics: Maya. Rendering: RenderMan.
    Compositing: Shake. Custom software: Custom plug-ins, custom
    Prman shaders, RIB and RIB Archive generation tools. OS: Various.

Additional Contributors:

    Producers: Joel Silver, Grant Hill
    Eon Visual Effects Supervisors: John Gaeta, John Des Jardin

    Senior Visual Effects Supervisor: Craig Hayes
    Visual Effects Producer: Amy Hollywood Wixson
    CG Supervisor: Johnny Gibson
    Visual Effects Supervisor: Scott Souter
    Art Director: Grant Alan Niesner
    Animation Supervisor: Simon Allen
    Digital Production Managers: Athena Yvette Portillo, Les G. Jones
    Visual Effects Editorial: Sarah Schubart
    Animation Leads: Dovi Anderson, Thomas Schelesny
    Animators: Michael Brunet, Chuck Duke, Aaron Gilman, Traci Horie, Eric Ingerson, Julie Jaros, Daniel Loeb, Guido Muzzarelli, Jason Shulman
    FX Animation Leads: Demetrius Leal, Daniel Rolinek
    FX Animators: Eyal Erez, Christopher Lyman Hamilton, Michael Johnson, Clear Menser, Naz Shams, Melissa Tseng, Bryan Whitaker
    Lighting Leads: Lloyd Royal Bernberg, Charles Rose
    Lighting Technical Directors: Mark Andrew De La Garza, Steven Demers, Brad Fox, Steven Quiñones-Colon, Julien Schreyer, Bart Trickel, Jim Valladao, Kelly Walsh, Matthew Welker, Davy Wentworth, Nelson Andrew White
    Compositing Leads: Alan Boucek, Matt Jacobs
    Digital Compositors: Dan Cayer, Brennan Doyle, Page Frakes, Chris Gibbons, Aruna Inversin, Jeff A. Johnson, Zoe Peck-Eyler, Gerard Benjamin Pierre, Ari Rubenstein, Josh Saeta, Matthew Wallin
    Matte Painter: Kent Matheson
    Layout Lead: Christopher Paizis
    Layout: Stephen Moros, Mark Siew
    Model Lead: Joseph Hamdorf
    Model: Jon Childress Farmer, John Koester, Paul Zinnes
    Paint Leads: Aaron “Pandacat” Florez, Andy Harbeck
    Paint: Nathan Stinus Fredenburg, Haskell Friedman
    Puppet Lead: Matthew Muntean
    Puppet: Peter Newsome, Tracey Roberts
    Matchmove: Devin Breese, Kirk Larkins, Eric Marko
    Rotoscope: Robert Dorris, Rick Markle, Ramona Martinez, Misty Segura Barbour, Kenneth Voss
    Digital Coordinators: Jaimie Lee Jota, Naomi Ruth Raine
    Assistant Digital Coordinator: Christopher Hall
    Production Assistants: Lisa Fay, Ron Nichols
    Render Wranglers: Christine Gatchalian, Nate Reid
    Film I/O: Vicki Wong, Nathan Abbot, Matthew Tomlinson
    Production Software Development: Markus Burki, Doug Epps, Michael Mortimer
    Head of Operations: Dan McNamara
    Director of Systems: Christian Rice
    Studio Controller: Suzanne Yoshi
    Head of Production: Alonzo Ruvalcaba
    Executive Producer: Jules Roman

Additional Information:

    Modeling: Maya NURBS and polygons to model city component libraries, based upon concept drawings from Geoff Darrow. Some2D rotoscoping used. Rendering technique used most: RenderMan,with extensive use of DelayedReadArchives. This allowed us to easily swap which of several different resolutions of models to actually use at render time. Average rendering CPU time per frame: 6-10 hours.Total production time: 18 months. Production highlight: This completely CG photo-real sequence, with little live-action photography,required building a massive living city. Component libraries of building pieces were built in such a fashion they could be used both procedu-rally or with hand dressing to create a densely layered cityscape that could be shaded either realistically or in a highly stylized manner (asin “neovision”).

Animation / Video Overview: