Hollywood-based In a Place Post recently delivered color correction for the new “World of Tanks” video game trailer, which gives a two-minute glimpse of the CG spectacle the game offers. Colorist Milton Adamou worked in the company’s Quantel Pablo suite to deliver vibrant colors that add to the rising intensity of tanks roaring across scorched deserts and rumbling across war-torn city streets.
“The World Of Tanks was an interesting project for me as it was a return to pure CGI,” explained Adamou. “Using traditional color timing techniques, I focused on separating the tanks from the scorching deserts and the crumbling streets of Berlin, in addition to employing compositing tools and sharpening plugins to really bring these images to life, giving them an almost documentary-like quality.”
In a recent blog post, Adamou outlined the challenges he faced on the project.
“This two minute trailer took director Steven Ilous across the Atlantic to Imagination Studios, where 60 artists worked for 60 days to create this CG extravaganza,” explained Adamou. “The raw images that Steven brought back with him had a real energy to them, but as great as they looked, Steven was wise enough to know that clean rendered images are simply the beginning of the process, not the end.”
He explained that conveying a sense of the scale of the tanks was a key challenge.
“To prevent consumer confusion, we couldn’t use humans,” said Ilous. “We tried to offset that by incorporating human artifacts that would subconsciously establish a familiar sense of scale. I wasn’t quite sure how I would go about applying real-world choices to these massive, cumbersome machines. They have a tendency to miniaturize the sets.”
“The good news is that color can help a great deal in this situation,” Adamou explained. “For example, by reducing the contrast and focus on foreground objects, you can kill their volume, and thus reduce the effects of miniaturization. This is one of the tricks we also use in stereoscopic photography and conversion, and it’s amazing how these two simple adjustments can skew the monocular depth cues enough to create a false sense of scale and perspective.”
Ilous relied on reference photographs of cobblestones from modern day Berlin to give the World War II street battle sequences added realism. “Ultimately this attention to detail paid off in the color session, because the images we were starting with had subtle details and realistic textures,” said Adamou. “At this point we started experimenting with blending modes. Just like with Photoshop or any other compositing application, the Quantel Pablo allows you to freely combine the color tools with paint and compositing, and that includes blending modes. We composited the color-corrected shot over itself and then played with modes like Screen and Overlay. Screen worked particularly well, bringing out the flames nicely. However, I wanted the effect to spare the shadows, so I used a simple luminance key and opacity slider to ‘mix in’ just the right amount of vibrance and contrast.”
“This is one thing I love about working with a system that allows you to composite with color,” he added. “What would normally take many layers of color to achieve on a pure color grading system can simply be achieved using a blending mode and an opacity slider in the Pablo.”
World of Tanks Teaser from Steven Ilous on Vimeo.