Press Release: Cinesite’s Golden Tablet Brings to Life Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Cinesite has completed work on 20th Century Fox’s Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. Their work involved the creation of the golden tablet, which is central to the plot of the latest film.

When the exhibits at New York’s Natural History Museum start behaving strangely, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) — now the director of nighttime operations — must find out the cause. He learns that the Tablet, which magically brings Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Jedediah (Owen Wilson) and the other exhibits to life, has started to decay. Larry must travel to London’s British Museum to learn how to prevent the Tablet’s magic from disappearing.  The film is directed by Shawn Levy, with visual effects supervision by Erik Nash.  Cinesite’s vfx supervisor was Zave Jackson.

One of Cinesite’s main shots begins with a close up of the golden tablet on the wall of the museum as it begins to corrode. The camera flies down to its surface, following the mysterious decay as it advances, disease-like, across the precious metal.

Many of Cinesite’s shots required the creation of an entirely CG tablet, which was built with reference to the prop used on set.  An original, clean textured and subsequent corroded version were created, also using images of rust and other heavily corroded metals as reference. The green glowing line of transition, as the corrosion progresses up the tablet, was created in 2D, using fractal noise tools.

“We learnt that with the right methodology and a large body of similar shots, it is possible to achieve a fairly large body of work with a relatively small team.”  said Zave Jackson. “In all, the team completed 87 shots to a high standard in just 5 weeks.”