Mechnology Takes ‘Veronica Mars’ to Edge-of-the-Cliff

Mechnology Visual Effects Studio recently helped Director John Kretchmer and UPN bring the second season of ‘Veronica Mars’ to a heart pounding, edge-of-the-cliff conclusion, according to Chip Potter, Mechnology Executive Producer.

Having previously provided visual effects for Kretchmer on other shows, Mechnology worked with on-set VFX Supervisor Gerard Black to help send a character off an ocean side cliff to his death in the surf 100 feet below. This involved a real stuntman hanging on the hood of a car and a 3D ‘stuntman’ created to match by the Mechnology team. The actual stuntman was first positioned on the car and driven across a parking lot towards a concealed trench equipped with a stuntpad. When the car came to a sudden stop, the stuntman was thrown rolling into the ditch onto the stuntpad.

Mechnology Lead 3D Artist, Mike Walls, used reference shots of the stuntman taken on set by Black and digital pictures of the actor to model a fully rigged and textured virtual stuntman, utilizing Autodesk 3ds Max, which was carefully lined up to seamlessly replace the real stuntman. To realistically animate the character long plunge into the ocean, Walls used 3ds Max physics system along with keyframe animation to finesse the final performance. Mechnology, using 3ds Max Mental Ray, rendered the CG ocean and shore. Mechnology took digital video reference shots of surf and waves along the Pacific Coast near Los Angeles. Elements of crashing waves were generated by Mechnology Digital Artist Ben Campanaro by isolating sections of the DV footage and then altering selected frames to match the camera perspective. Walls performed the final composting, adding the CG elements to the shot and removing the film crew, lighting equipment, and safety wires from the original plate.

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