How Digital Dimension Created Blade: Trinity FX

Microsoft Corp. today announced that Digital Dimension, a four-time Emmy Award-winning studio specializing in high-end visual effects, 3-D animation and motion graphics, used Microsoft® technologies to create and manage 167 visual effects for the newly released box-office hit Blade Trinity. All the effects for flame, ash and skeletal degradation of the vampires were executed by Digital Dimension’s skilled computer generated imagery (CGI) artists, who saved countless hours and resources by using Windows® SharePoint® Services and Windows Server System(TM) to simultaneously and efficiently collaborate on multiple motion picture projects. The studio’s pipeline and business process management relies on the Microsoft .NET Framework.

“The Microsoft environment can support every single angle of our business, so it’s easy to create, manage, distribute and share information between applications — and that is priceless,” said Ben Girard, president and founder of Digital Dimension.

Digital Dimension, whose highly acclaimed visual effects have appeared in numerous movies, including “The Last Samurai” and “Scooby Doo 2″ and the upcoming “Super Bowl XXXIX (2005)” opening sequence, has a reputation for leaving audiences amazed. Since the company’s inception, Digital Dimension’s workload has tripled every year, creating a serious challenge for the company. With more scenes to create, review, revise, finalize and return to the production company, Digital Dimension managers needed a collaborative workflow environment to manage the enormous volume of information. The company turned to Microsoft technologies to create a homogenous and powerful collaborative solution.

Using Microsoft Windows Server System and Windows SharePoint Services, Digital Dimension created a powerful workflow system that allows artists and managers to share information, collaborate on projects and manage workflow with greater efficiency.

“With the constant increase of work, there was just too much information in play, thus potentially affecting overall efficiency,” Girard said. “We quickly realized that not everyone needs to be flooded with every little piece of information, such as what versions of each of the elements have been approved, or when 3-D elements are ready for compositing, etc. The information needs to be targeted and flowing rapidly between parties involved in the visual effects process. With Microsoft Windows SharePoint and Windows Server System, we were able to better manage and orchestrate all the appropriate information.”

Microsoft technologies offer production studios a convenient way to manage vast amounts of information. For the “Blade” series, vampire ashings have been the signature visual effect, and director David Goyer tasked Digital Dimension with creating the most detailed, visually impressive ashings seen to date. With 167 shots due in a short time frame, and some scenes involving as many as five vampires ashing at once, Digital Dimension relied on Windows Server System and Windows SharePoint Services to help manage the complexity. The company reaped the following benefits during the production of the Blade Trinity shots:

– High volumes of information were managed more efficiently. Microsoft Windows SharePoint enabled Digital Dimension to create an integrated information “dashboard” for sharing notes, collaborating on projects and managing workflow with greater efficiency.

– Mobile interactivity was enabled. Early in the deployment of SharePoint, Digital Dimension realized that many of its project managers were highly mobile. To accommodate their mobility, the company outfitted each project manager with a Tablet PC with wireless network connectivity. Using the Tablet PC, it became even easier for project managers to interact with key information — anywhere, anytime.

– Production costs were reduced. Digital Dimension built its entire production environment on Microsoft Windows Server System integrated software and .NET-based solutions, creating a coherent IT framework that is easy to use, integrate and support.

– Customer satisfaction was improved. Deploying Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services created a cost-effective collaborative workflow environment, enabling Digital Dimension to yield impressive efficiencies and better respond to its clients.

“The fact that the Microsoft operating system and most of its server products are now in every facet of our company allows us to automate and collaborate with all the assets and information we’re creating,” Girard said. “The servers are talking to the desktop systems and vice versa, and all the services in between those points allow us to create a much more unified production environment — and the value of that integration cannot be understated.”

“We’re thrilled to support one of Hollywood’s hottest visual effects and animation studios with technology that improves its ability to create, manage and securely deliver its digital assets,” said Kimberly Till, vice president of the Worldwide Media & Entertainment Group at Microsoft. “Microsoft is dedicated to delivering integrated software solutions that help media and entertainment companies save time and money while enhancing the consumer’s content experience.”

Source: Microsoft Corp.