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Background information Edit
Deceptively real looking, the Ba'ku kolibri seen in the Insurrection movie, was not footage of a real world bird, but rather a full-fledged CGI effect, constructed at Blue Sky/VIFX, they being responsible for all the planet-bound visual effects for that movie. Animation Supervisor Mark Baldo recounted, "We started on the hummingbird with the idea of developing a new creature, but were reined in when the first pass looked too Dr. Seuss-like. The hummingbird turned out looking like a tropical bird from the rain forest. Our senior lighting effects specialist, Dave Walvoord, created a brand-new piece of code to produce iridescent tail feathers via our procedural texture renderer." (Cinefex, issue 77, p. 87) The animators at Blue Sky used high-speed photographs taken from real-world hummingbirds as reference for modeling the "slowed" flapping of wings. The high-speed footage was taken and videotaped by Senior Animator Doug Dooley, executing the characterwork, as Baldo recalled, "Seeing the genuine wing movement in slow motion gave Doug a good idea of the speed we wanted them to be moving; and that was key, since our bird was the first element completed for the sequence and set the tone for the remainder of it." (Cinefex, issue 77, pp. 77, 87) The design of the bird evolved from "too predatory" to a "kinder, gentler" kind of bird, representing the Ba'ku world (The Secrets of Star Trek: Insurrection, pp.158-159). Elaborating, Balbo added on another occasion, "When the hummingbird was moving in real time, the wings were just a blur, so Doug Dooley, who animated the hummingbird, was literally posing them into completely different positions from frame to frame. The hard part was doing the 'slow-motion' animation. In real time, the wings would beat completely in just a few frames, but in slow-motion, they would probably take about five seconds to go from the bottom-most position to the top. We were still only working at 24 fps, but it's the positioning of the wing in each frame that creates that illusion of a super-slow altered reality. In order to make the hummingbird a very iridescent creature, one of our senior technical directors, Dave Walvoord, wrote a special procedure. The hummingbird's feathers looked almost black, but whenever the light hit them, the feathers went green." (American Cinematographer, January 1999, p. 44-45)