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10,000 BC

Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow) has directed the new Warner Bros Pictures epic ’10 000BC.’

MPC’s two main focuses were the ‘’Mammoth Hunt’ sequence and the ‘Giza environment’. The team created the fully CG mammoths and the 3D Giza environment for over 150 shots. The Mammoths were clothed in fur generated through bespoke fur creation and grooming tool ‘Furtility’ developed specifically for the project. The MPC development team also enhanced their ALICE crowd simulation software to accommodate the behaviour of herds of mammoths, with special emphasis on their trunks and their movement when harnessed together.

In a remote mountain tribe, the young hunter D’Leh (Steven Strait) has found his heart’s passion – the beautiful Evolet (Camilla Belle). But when a band of mysterious warlords raid his village and kidnap Evolet, D’Leh leads a small group of hunters to pursue the warlords to the end of the world to save her. As they venture into unknown lands for the first time, the group discovers there are civilizations beyond their own and that mankind’s reach is far greater than they ever knew. At each encounter the group is joined by other tribes who have been attacked by the slave raiders, turning D’Leh’s once-small band into an army. (

The Mammoth Hunt, sees herds of the creatures stampeding over the plains, some shots are fully CG others consist of live action back plates with 2D and 3D elements. Similarly, in some shots the CG Mammoths are in the background with others seeing them very close to screen with highly detailed skin and fur textures. This meant that ‘Furtility’ needed to allow for modifications to the textures to keep realistic detail depending on camera distance. The fur appears fully photo-real in all shots and is able to emulate the properties of the matted, tangled and dirty hair, of the everyday outdoor mammoth.

The texture library included more than 660 different examples, with CG fur growing up to 2 metres (6 feet) in length there were huge implications at render time with many vertices to calculate per frame.

Towards the end of the sequence, the animal is seen captured in a net that was made from plaited or twisted mammoth hair, particular emphasis was made to ensure the ropes frayed and untangled as they rubbed each other as they would do in real life. The same ‘rope’ is used in later shots to secure the harnesses to ‘enslaved’ mammoths. The ‘cloth simulation’ for this used Syflex.

Roland Emmerich
Warner Bros Pictures
MPC VFX Supervisor
Nicolas Aithadi

The ‘herding’ is driven by MPC’s ALICE crowd simulation software which allowed each individual beast to behave and move on their own and interact with the rest of the herd as well as the environment they are living in. Furtility was integrated into the pipeline to work with ALICE, this way the CG fur could move with the animal’s movement. There were also two walk cycles; one for the free mammoths, who run and stampede and another for the harnessed mammoths seen in the Giza shots who are carrying the weight of being shackled to others and need to modify their movements to the others. Two shots in the Mammoth hunt sequence show hero full screen mammoths; for the matter of safety, the team needed to integrate a digital double of D’leh into the centre of the rampaging herd. Much of the real ‘shot’ grass was removed and ‘Furtility’ fuelled CG replacements were roto-scoped in, with grass seed pods adding extra realism.

For the fully CG Giza sequence, a CG model of the area was created by taking stills of a miniature model of the environment, these were projected back onto the CG model, this allowed more control over camera moves and also meant that new shots could be devised. 40,000 ALICE enabled digital slaves populate the environment.

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