In December of last year Halo 4 came out and the world rejoiced. Along with it came a web series called Forward Unto Dawn which was a live action VFX set that brought the Halo universe to life. It opened with 5 fantastic title sequences created by Polynoid a German Design/VFX house.
From the Press Release:
Polynoid‚Äôs microfilms illustrate the intense relationship between Cortana, an artificial intelligence entity and indispensable aide to Master Chief, the long-time hero of the Halo series. Set aboard a spacecraft, the UNSC¬†Forward Unto Dawn, as it drifts towards imminent doom, Cortana must battle to awaken Master Chief from cryo-stasis before it‚Äôs too late.
‚ÄúFor us, Cortana was the centerpiece around which we spun our story,‚ÄĚ said Polynoid‚Äôs Jan Bitzer. ‚ÄúWhen we started working out the scenes and shots, we did it under the premise that Cortana is the only ‚Äėalive‚Äô being we could play with.‚ÄĚ
With elegantly framed shots, drifting cameras and gloomy lighting, Polynoid emphasized the soul-crushing loneliness aboard the nearly empty spacecraft. To effectively communicate the passing of time, Polynoid switched from the relative calm of zero-gravity to intense time-lapsed action.
‚Äú[The time lapse sequence] was technically the most challenging. We spent a lot of time tweaking it; always trying to improve every shot simultaneously to guarantee a consistent quality for the overall piece,‚ÄĚ Bitzer noted.
Polynoid and Blacklist collaborated with 343 Industries every step of the way, carefully guarding production from the massive press surrounding ‚ÄúHalo 4.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúPolynoid are gamers, and this was a dream opportunity,‚ÄĚ said Blacklist Executive Producer Adina Sales. “This project was a perfect fit for our team. ¬†343 was looking for a sophisticated interpretation and they encouraged us to push the artistic lense. ¬†Polynoid had a clear vision from the outset and we were determined to deliver in spades. ¬†We‚Äôre very proud of the results.‚ÄĚ
Here you can see a detailed making of that goes through their entire process from conception:
Don’t forget to check out their site¬†page for the sequence for some stills and styleframes!
We dropped them a line to do a little Q&A with Polynoid’s Jan Bitzer and Fabian Pross.¬†¬†Here’s a snippet but click ‘Full Interview’ to view the entire thing!
Fabian Pross on the FX:
We used Softimage ICE for almost all our effects work. The rampancy is actually not simulated, but a combination of procedural modeling and some keyframes.
Jan Bitzer on the Asset Development
343 Industries provided us with most of the CG assets which we had to bring together on an equal production level. Some elements where very high poly and had to be optimized, while others were simplified game assets and needed detail work.