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Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World in 4D

The latest and fourth installment of the Spy Kids franchise: Spy Kids 4: All the Time in The World in 4D hit theatres last Friday, August 19th—with VFX signed by Hybride.

For this latest installment, Hybride, a division of Ubisoft, produced 1,114 VFX shots, for a total of 64 minutes—a significant challenge considering they represent the most visual effects ever produced for a single project—brilliantly executed by 95 artists over a short 6-month period.

Collaboration between Hybride and Robert Rodriguez began back in 1998 with the first of a series of collaborations. To date, the studio has created digital visual effects for more than 11 films by the world-renowned director, including VFX for all three previous Spy Kids movies.

« Thanks to our long-standing relationship, we’ve adapted our work methods to Robert’s style. Though this made our job a little easier, we relied on the in-depth know-how of our supervision team to efficiently manage the considerable workload resulting from the project’s tight deadlines”, said Daniel Leduc, VFX Producer at Hybride.

In order to maximize productivity, Hybride artists developed innovative procedural tools and management practices tailored to the production’s specific needs. “Our proven technical and administrative infrastructures, combined with rigorous organizational skills, made it possible for us to adapt rapidly in order to meet the requirements of this large-scale project. The end results translate into impressive VFX shots—both from a technical and artistic point of view—that showcase our creative team’s talent and ingenuity”.

In detail:Hybride’s contribution includes the creation of 3D CG environments and integration of characters filmed on green screen in over 18 virtual settings. To recreate the Timekeeper’s lair, Hybride artists worked in parallel with Troublemaker Studios, the film’s co producer.

“The Hybride team also developed cutting-edge technology to create an entirely virtual city. Each element was generated using procedural scripts: car traffic, inhabitants, vegetation, traffic signs and advertising panels were all produced automatically to maximize production and to give the artists optimal freedom to create. The appearance of a building, from its size, stories, and architectural details, can be modified in real time with the simple click of a mouse” said Philippe Théroux, lead CG Supervisor at Hybride.

The movie’s visual effects are true-to-life. The two heroes, who were filmed on green screen, were placed behind the commands of virtual Jet Luges by Hybride’s compositing team. “The scene results in a frenzied race sequence through the city, where the potential for a crash can happen at any turn”.

By creating and animating Argonaut, the robot dog, the studio pushed attention to detail even further. A real dog was filmed in studio and then transposed onto a 3D snout by Hybride artists, thus, creating the perfect illusion of a talking dog. “As a result, the -“robot gadget”- style animation of the dog’s jaw is perfectly in sync with actor Ricky Gervais’ voice. It was fundamental that the 3D snout be integrated seamlessly with the dog or the effect wouldn’t be believable” Théroux added. In all, close to one hundred shots required animation and integration to make Argonaut talk.

Hybride artists were also tasked with set extensions and simulating dog hairs, creating CG characters, fire & explosions, holographic screens and many of the Spy Kids’ mind-blowing gadgets.