Avid Helps Drive Planet 51’s Otherworldly Spain Success
The story centers on an American astronaut Captain Charles "Chuck" Baker who lands on Planet 51 to find a peaceful 1950s-style world and himself ironically cast as the invader from outer space.
Spain had an otherworldly success on its hands this year with Planet 51, the country’s leading box office hit. Produced by IIion Animation Studios, Handmade Films and Antena 3, the film generated $40M in its first week of release in the U.S., Spain and Canada. Based on these worldwide figures, Planet 51 topped Spain’s international hit list, outdistancing Alejandro Amenabar's Agora and Pedro Almodovar's Broken Embraces.
Ironic Space Invader
The story centers on an American astronaut Captain Charles Chuck Baker who lands on Planet 51 to find a peaceful 1950s-style world and himself ironically cast as the invader from outer space.
“After exploring a long list of different ideas, we came up with Planet 51: alien beings, little green men with antennae on top of their heads, living in fear of human invasion. It was the classic tale of an alien invasion but seen from a completely different angle!” enthuses Jorge Blanco, Planet 51 Director.
Written by by Shrek's Joe Stillman, there were stars aplenty to tell the tale, with lead voices provided by Dwayne Johnson and Jessica Biel while Seann William Scott, Gary Oldman and John Cleese round out the movie’s A-list cast.
Avid's Editing & Storage solutions allowed all our editors to work on the same media at the same time, allowing for greater flexibility on task assignments and scheduling, as well as the ability to easily share edits. This was invaluable to the success of our production, as the high variance, high creativity animation environment would make a rigid/inflexible solution impractical.
But other behind-the-scenes stars played an equally important role in the picture’s creation. Helping to drive both its otherworldly story line and Spanish box office success, Planet 51 featured a star-studded array of Avid production gear, providing editors and composers with the most out-of-this-world video editing and sound production capabilities in the film industry.
Four Avid Media Composers, Avid Mojo DX, one Unity (connected over Ethernet) and one ProTools LE helped everyone maximize both video and audio workflows. This helped Ilion Animation Studios address the enormous challenges of building a top-tier animated film from a creative, technological and human standpoint.
“Conscious of the huge challenge facing us with Planet 51’s character animation,” explains Planet 51 co-Director Javier Abad, “we decided we would put together our own computer animation tools and software.”
A potpourri of comedy, caricature and underlying sensitivity, Planet 51’s creators needed to fashion a mesh of laugh out loud and sensitive, heart-warming scenes. These ranged from an alien in a toupee driving a Cadillac shaped like a flying saucer to a young female character’s realization that the virtue and bravery tucked away in her heart had been there all along, just waiting to be discovered.
Comments Ignacio Perez Dolset, CEO, Ilion Animation Studios, “From the start, we began looking for a fresh and original storyline that was highly differentiated from other movies.”
Maintaining extremely high standards of animation quality within the constraints of tight production deadlines, Avid’s Media Composers and Avid Unity storage hardware worked together to facilitate a collaborative workflow that not only spanned a wide array of creative contributors, but duplicate installations in two countries.
Two Houses, One Production
With Avid installations replicated in both London and Madrid-based post production houses, shots arrived at Madrid from different departments such as layout, animation, lighting and compositing, were imported daily, and each action identified with a colour. Once imported, the Avid image files, bin with the MasterClips and the sequence with the shots updated that day were FTP’d back to London. This allowed the two houses to quickly and efficiently synchronize the project every time a change was made.
Utilizing the Avid DNxHD 36 codec, QuickTime files were generated according to the resolution required, enabling a quick import of files into the Avid system. Though an HD codec, it consumed a relatively small amount of disc space and featured a data transfer rate of 36MB/s. This made it compatible with media in the Unity storage unit, allowing the number of computers connected to a Unity to work on the same piece of the project simultaneously.
Despite the compressed signal, image quality was maintained as all the material from the different departments was converted to the Avid codec and imported. Through this process, the latest shot version being edited was always available.
On the sound front, Ilion employed a ProTools LE system. Every time some dialogue change was made or there were new voices from the first sound edits in Madrid, the sound editor prepared and used Pro Tools to edit the projects before passing them on to Editorial. Since Pro Tools was also connected to the Unity 5.0, it made for a quick and efficient file exchange.
An AAF was sent to the Avid when the audio was ready, including cuts made and new audio arriving from the different recording sessions. Then, if Editorial made any image editing change, another AAF was returned to sound to make the relevant audio changes. The workflow was the same in the London-based sound department.
End-to-end Success for Everyone
One of the key advantages Avid provided IIion Animation Studios was the ability to work with a fully-integrated workflow solution. From DNxHD 36 codec and Unity storage to Media Composers, Mojo DX and Pro Tools, these interconnected Avid tools provided greater access, ease-of-use, quality control and time management capability than any set of disparate products and technologies could have afforded.
Based on one of the most efficient means of moving and manipulating data available in today’s post production industry, Avid’s end-to-end solution helped make Planet 51 the end-to-end success it turned out to be for everyone, consumers, creators and Spain alike.