Buf boasts big brains

Integrating software, impressing auds are vfx wiz's goals

Buf builds all its effects, animation and project management software inhouse, with a team of 13 engineers supplying new tools daily to the graphic artists. “That gives us a very strong relationship between the artist and the engineers,” says Xavier Bec, head of R&D.

Software is customized for particular projects or tuned as work progresses. This allowed Buf to handle the huge crowd scenes demanded by Oliver Stone’s “Alexander,” for example, or to fix the pyrotechnics at short notice in “Knowing.”

Buf’s biggest claim to fame is the “bullet time” effect from the “Matrix” films. Other innovations, such as creating seamless transitions as a camera travels between floors of the house in “Panic Room,” are now routine. “That’s the greatest challenge, to imagine what we can do to impress the audience,” Bec says.

Current projects include new movement and posture options for character animation. “We want to provide artists with a lot of information they can use to make animation more physical and more accurate,” Bec says.

Ultimately he wants to achieve greater integration in the software. “We don’t see a distinction between images, between textures, between final rendering and 3D. We want to merge all of these assets in the same software.”

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