Over the past 20 years, Jody Madden has worked her way to the top of the visual effects career ladder. She began her career at Industrial Light & Magic and Lucasfilm in San Francisco, then moved to Los Angeles to work for Digital Domain. Today, Jody is CEO of Foundry, the London-based company behind essential VFX software Nuke, Modo, Katana & Mari.
In this podcast, Jody discusses how interesting new approaches to working may come out of the COVID situation, as well as how her experience at Digital Domain and long-distance management of Foundry have prepared her for managing people through times of uncertainty. She also tells Chris about Foundry’s history as a Digital Domain off-shoot and how it’s preparing for a shift in the way media is produced and consumed.
This is an interview with Rick Sander, Co Visual Effects Supervisor on Tribes of Europa, to breakdown the incredible VFX work that went into the making of the show.
Among the many pleasures of Love, Death & Robots, “The Witness” was a particular standout: Its mind-bending story and vivid art style combined to create a unique and challenging short film. In this inspirational podcast, director Alberto Mielgo breaks down the making of the project.
You’ll find out Alberto’s influences, from Tintin to Disney to Blade Runner and the films of Éric Rohmer. He also talks about blending simple 2D and advanced cloth techniques to achieve “The Witness’” distinctive look, the inspiration behind its story — and his ambition to make animated movies that are regarded in the same light as live-action features.
Creating a Chinese CyberNeon Game Environment In UE4
My name is Junliang Zhang. I come from Shanghai, China. I am a 3D Environment Artist currently working at 3BLACKDOT in Los Angeles, USA. My passion for the game industry comes from my childhood. I still remembered how much I was setting in front of computer playing the most of classical PC games back to 90’s, such as, Starcraft, Commend & Conquer series, and Age of Empires II. When I usually playing these games I always wondered how they were made arts and gameplay or how I could make something cool mods. Therefore, My true interest is game art.
It’s no secret: nowadays, almost all films and TV series utilise VFX (visual effects) in some shape or form.
From the roaring explosions and gunfights synonymous with action-packed blockbusters to the creation of whole new environments, creatures and characters that typify TV epics like The Mandalorian, spectacular VFX have firmly cemented themselves in every filmmaker’s arsenal as an essential storytelling tool.
This was my second piece done at school and I wanted to do something completely different from my previous one, which was sci-fi and hard-surface. The logical step was to create something organic and based in real life. I wanted it to be interesting and different. My mentor, the amazing Reilly Lohr suggested, among other ideas, doing a bust of this stork. I had never seen this bird before and just loved his overall look, how unique it was and the challenges it would present.
Ofir Tal Buchris is studying 3D animation for her second year at IAC (Israeli Animation College) in Tel Aviv. She has also studied painting and drawing at Frame By Frame with Ben Ozeri and recently participated in a workshop led by Adam Goldstein (lead texture artist at Framestore).
We all know it can be difficult to break into creative industries. Competition for jobs is global, junior talent is strong and every month more and more artists graduate and are competing for jobs. It’s not all doom and gloom though. There really are plenty of great jobs out there. The hard truth is that too many of you are making simple mistakes that can be avoided.
Hey everyone, today we are talking about what exactly a Technical Director is, what are the skills involved and of course what it means to work for Pixar and how it might be different to most of us. I am joined by Paul Kanyuk a Lead Technical Director at Pixar Animation Studio who was working there for the last 14 years and involved in one of my favorite movies of all time … Ratatouille. His impressive resume also includes Cars, Wall-E, UP, Brave and Finding Dory.
We at CGSociety had the chance to interview redchillies.vfx’s Chief Creative Officer/VFX Supervisor, Mr. Haresh Hingorani, and Chief Operating Officer/VFX Producer, Mr. Keitan Yadav. Here they tell us all about their most recent film, “ZERO” starring the one and only Shah Rukh Khan, and the incredible special effects and teamwork required to make it real.
Breaking down his hyperrealistic 3D carnivorous plant, Léandre Hounnake describes his techniques and tips for making 3D art in 3ds Max that blurs the line between CG and reality. WandaVision is a playful, mysterious, and action-packed series from Marvel on Disney+. “It picks up shortly after Avengers: Endgame. Tara DeMarco was the VFX supervisor tasked with producing for the small screen all of the visual effects and ‘synthezoid’ complexity seen in the major tentpole feature films. DeMarco is an award-winning VFX supervisor known for her cutting-edge work as a flame artist. Her 18-year career in visual effects is grounded in high-end commercial work, having composited on Emmy, Cannes Lion, and DA&D award-winning work. She had a 14-year run at The Mill, as well as freelancing with several other studios such as Method, Brickyard and Psyop.
How were the cyborgs in Alita: Battle Angel created? Watch this brand new VFX breakdown reel to get insight into DNEG’s creature (cyborg) animation which included the ‘Factory Gang’ in the crazy bar fight scene, as well as the cyborg, ‘Amok’ in the Ido flashback scene. In addition to creature work, there was quite a bit of environment work completed for the pick-up rollerball game, as well as the addition of all rollerball skates within that same sequence.
Inspired by the Old Masters, Marianna Yakimova wanted to celebrate her new V-Ray skills with a 3D illustration that showcases beautiful fabric and lighting. Using the brief of a perfume commercial for a floral fragrance, the illustration is delicate and romantic; everything from the graceful hairstyle to the texture of the elegant dress was designed to represent flowers, from bud to bloom. Aiming for maximum realism, great attention to detail needed to be paid to the hair and dress — in particular the translucent, chiffon-like fabric. The color palette and light balance of the image also had to work together to create a classic and fresh mood, and the clever composition adds an element of privacy, even secrecy.
Friday Marvelous Designer 9 was released increasing it’s real estate among professional pipelines demanding any dedicated character artist pick up a great new toolset! Have a look at the updated features and post your works in the Gallery today.
CHICAGO—The SIGGRAPH 2019 Production Sessions program reveals lineup of behind-the-scenes looks at the “making of” the year’s biggest productions in film, streaming, cable, games, and VR. Offering exclusive access to the best minds in visual effects (VFX), Production Sessions will be held throughout the conference week, 28 July–1 August, at the Los Angeles Convention Centre. With 11 total sessions, attendees can expect to hear from creators who worked on award-winning studio blockbusters, buzzworthy streaming and cable series, and out-of-this-world games and VR productions, including a look at how TIME, Felix & Paul Studios, and NASA filmed VR experience “Space Explorers” in microgravity on the International Space Station.
Jesse Custer hasn’t lived the world’s most blameless life. He’s robbed banks. He’s killed folk. He’s transported reptiles illegally across the border. But he’s turned over a new leaf—now a Texas preacher with a vampire, a ride-or-die thief, and the literal power of Genesis on his side, he’s demanding answers from God Himself. Now if only he could find Him.
Per Fin Design + Effects’ website: “Fin brings its VFX and visual storytelling expertise to highly-anticipated upcoming Netflix film, I Am Mother. Directed by Grant Sputore, the post-apocalyptic film stars Hilary Swank, Rose Byrne, and break-out star Clara Rugaard. In I Am Mother, a teenage girl (Rugaard) is raised underground by a robot ‘Mother’ (voiced by Byrne), designed to repopulate the earth following an extinction event. But their unique bond is threatened when an inexplicable stranger (Swank) arrives with alarming news.”
When gaming studio Rebellion tapped RealtimeUK for their Zombie Army 4: Dead War E3 2019 cinematic, they needed a trailer that was super action-packed, super threatening, and super… gory. Because when it comes to defeating Cloud Hitler, it’s never enough to just subdue the zombie masses—they need to be run through an explosive meat grinder!
Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition celebrates the 20th anniversary of one of the most popular strategy games ever with stunning 4K Ultra HD graphics, remastered audio and a whole new campaign – The Last Khans. Return to Reign in 2019.
Chronicling the life story of Arctic explorer Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach both the Northern and Southern Poles, Amundsen features the work of Nordic VFX studios Gimpville (Norway), Filmgate (Sweden), FABLEfx (Sweden) and Varg Studios (Norway), who worked together to bring danger and intrigue to the snowy tundras.
German VFX studio Trixter released the breakdown of their work on Marvel’s 2019 blockbuster Captain Marvel, showing their work on such tremendous scenes as the approach to Mar-Vell’s laboratory, Captain Marvel’s escape from Skrull torture, and her subsequent tumble into a Blockbuster Video. But while the bombastic effects definitely impress, it’s their work on crafting the small & fuzzy Goose the Cat that takes the cake. Though Marvel had a series of real-life cats for many of the scenes—including cat actors “Reggie,” “Archie,” “Gonzo,” and “Rizzo”—when it came time to shoot scenes in space, it was up to Trixter to help make the kitty fly. Check out their breakdown below!
Picking the concept originally, I needed something with a story and human skin, but also being someone who likes creatures, it was appealing to me to squeeze one into the assignment. I also like to look for things with a lot of colors and cinematic lighting, so I ended up looking at work from the light master himself, James Gurney. The Concept, Makign a Dino, Human Skin, Compositing.
What began as an in-house experiment has ballooned into a viral phenomenon. We talk to the minds behind this playful reimagining of the cars that style forgot.
When I studied fashion design, we didn’t learn any computer-based design. Everything was 2D. My illustration teacher was the lead illustrator for Gianni Versace, so these weren’t just sketches, they were beautiful, highly stylised works of art. That experience landed me my first job at Nicola Finetti, but as I moved around in the design business, I learnt about CAD software on the job.
Want to develop VFX for stylized games? Check out this talk by four artists as they break down their approaches to creating and integrating wild and weird VFX, from cartoony to 70s scifi-inspired, and beyond!. In this 2017 GDC talk, Bill Kladis, Bryanna Lindsey, Jeremy Mitchell and Shen-Ming Spurgeon discuss methods you can use to establish the artistic pillars of your game’s VFX using specific examples from various games with unique art styles, including Double Fine’s 70s scifi-inspired Headlander, Motiga’s MOBA Gigantic, Volition’s Agents of Mayhem, and a small (then-unreleased) game by Epic: Fortnite.
MPC’s team led by VFX Supervisor Oliver Winwood and VFX Producers Patrick Dean and Matthew Marshall completed 157 shots for episodes 2-6, working closely with Directors Marc Munden and Philippa Lowthorpe, Production VFX Supervisor Ivor Middleton and VFX Producer Rob Delicata. The team’s work included a range of effects including creatures, CG crowds, FX simulations, environment extensions and seamless digital shot stitching.
Senior Compositor Brittany Piacente has worked on more than 50 movies and TV shows, including Black Panther, Blade Runner 2049, Vikings, and not one, but THREE Star Wars films! Her IMDB is as impressive as it gets, and she’s held senior positions at Deluxe, Mr X, and Method Studios. A natural leader and mentor, we’re thrilled to have someone of her caliber teaching our Nuke Compositing course. Find out how Brittany became a VFX Artist and Compositor, and get her top 3 tips for creating an amazing compositing demo reel.
In the Chinese blockbuster The Wandering Earth, the expanding sun is in its dying throes and threatens to send not just the Earth but the entire solar system to a fiery destruction. Thankfully, a team of scientists bands together to hatch a plan that may save the world: attaching a series of thrusters to the planet’s crust, Earth will rocket out of its orbit and set out on a 2500-year journey to a new star system. But with Earth now a frozen wasteland and civilization now living in underground shelters, it falls on the shoulders of a group of young people to make sure humanity survives.
CONTROLLED DEMOLITION: TIPS FROM BOTTLESHIP VFX
With The Wandering Earth rocking the Chinese box office, we ask Bottleship VFX’s Hristo Velev how he unleashes destruction while keeping his business on track. Need to destroy something? Bottleship VFX is the place to go. In the past year, this mayhem-obsessed Bulgaria-based studio has blown up buildings for Hunter Killer; orchestrated splashed-down planes for Air Strike; unleashed mountain-sized tornados on Mars for Forsaken; created swarms of flying mobile phones for 2.0; and last, but certainly not least, helped a pair of characters escape an imploding tower for Chinese box-office phenomenon The Wandering Earth.
When Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, he took the world with him. There was no road map – no one had ever done it before – and it took a team of intelligent, dedicated individuals to make it happen. Like Armstrong, Oscar-winning film director and producer James Cameron has taken us to terrains unexplored, from the depths of the Mariana Trench and its seemingly alien life, to the boundless vistas of imaginary planets. And, also like Armstrong, he was only able to get us there because of the commitment and talent of enthusiastic folks who shared his vision.
It’s no exaggeration to say the biggest audiences of the future will be from Asia, whether they’re located in south, east or southeast Asian countries. With over a combined population of 1 billion kids under 17 today, these are the consumers that filmmakers and content creators need to reach – now and in the future. They will be the eyeballs and they will hold the purchasing power. The growing importance of the China box office and Netflix’s goals for growth in India mean investments in Asian media and entertainment markets are just beginning.
Like a fine moisturizing cream, visual effects have seeped into every pore of movies to the point where the audience often may not even know they’re being used. The cutting-edge technology devised to create this magic has a direct and often transformative effect on our cinematic experience.
Virtual Production (VP), as a term, is in vogue: it’s being bandied around with growing frequency in the media and entertainment industries. And for good reason. VP has long held promise as the way to unify the disparate elements of the production pipeline, creating a more collaborative, cohesive and efficient process.
Yet many remain unsure as to what VP actually means in practice, and this – in part – may explain why adoption has been slow.
Per Blender’s write-up: “Spring is the story of a shepherd girl and her dog, who face ancient spirits in order to continue the cycle of life. This poetic and visually stunning short film was written and directed by Andy Goralczyk, inspired by his childhood in the mountains of Germany. The Spring team used the development version of Blender 2.80 for the entire production, even before the software was in official Beta. As for all of Blender’s Open Movies, the entire production process and all its source files are being shared on our production platform Blender Cloud.”
ILP committed to working on two principal sequences as well as creating the shark and an underwater seabed environment. We knew that we would need far more control over our Shallows shark than we had over previous sharks we had created. In a process that involved modeling, sculpting, rigging and look development, our team created a Great White that could be used in a variety of situations. We also developed advanced setups to deform the shark as well as setup complex simulations for water interaction, underwater dust clouds, bubble and blood trails.
UK-based VFX company On-set Facilities has developed an impressive, and apparently unique, system that creates visually stunning live VFX from green-screen shoots. The system uses a VR games engine, which combines the foreground image, the CG background, the matte and the camera tracking data and feeds it to Nuke where the final composition is output.
Is the VFX industry stuck in the 90s? Despite all of the stunning wizardry and modern visual flourishes produced by VFX studios, there still remains a big disconnect between today’s production software and the artists in the trenches that have to use these tools day in and day out. It might be easy to say well, if those artists are creating amazing work, what does it matter that the tools are sub-par? But it does matter.
It’s that time of year where Foundry gazes into our crystal ball and tries to predict some key trends that could shape VFX (and other areas of tech) over the next 12 months.
A collaboration between The Monkeys Melbourne, In The Thicket and Alt, the newly released Asahi campaign is a visual feast that takes viewers on a journey through landscapes built around surreal Japanese iconography. From script to shoot – a huge operation that took place at Sydney’s Fox Studios – Director Marco Prestini and his Executive Producer, Genevieve Triquet from production company In The Thicket, brought on the VFX team at Alt to help realise the creative vison.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom | VFX Breakdowns
Image Engine, El Ranchito, and ILM present their VFX work on “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”
On the heels of the release of Season Three, Sebastien Bergeron, Founder and VFX Supervisor at Folks VFX, offers 12 facts about Syfy series,12 Monkeys. We were brought on board last season, for Season Two of 12 Monkeys. They wanted a change in the visual effects department, and I had a previous relationship with one of the associate producers, Keri Young. The kind of pro-active collaboration they were looking for was perfect for Folks and the fact that the series revolves around time travel –what science fiction is all about in my mind –meant that the show was a great fit any way we looked at it.
The close-knit team at Rising Sun Pictures (RSP) work on some of the most talked-about and iconic VFX sequences in Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. That Quicksilver ‘Kitchen Scene’ in X-Men: Days of Future Past – that was RSP! ‘Val’s Flashback’ in Marvel’s current juggernaut Thor: Ragnarok – again RSP! More on that below.
“We have the capability of creating these memorable sequences as we are fast, flexible, and creative, which makes us an obvious choice for studios who require this kind of VFX,” says Anthony Smith, Head of 2D (Compositing, Paint, Roto, and Digital Matte Painting Departments). “When we do this specific style of work, it often results in the studio asking us to produce many more VFX shots for them. We are proud of the quality we produce at RSP and we set the bar high, so to have tools like Mocha save us time, is extremely important to us.” The Australian-based company is currently working on many projects at the same time, including Peter Rabbit, Tomb Raider, Animal World, and X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
How They Did It: Marvel Studios’ ACES Workflow for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
How did Marvel Studios ensure that the amazing, eye-popping visuals created by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 director James Gunn, cinematographer Henry Braham, and VFX supervisor Christopher Townsend all ended up on screen as the filmmakers intended? Marvel Studios used ACES to manage the film’s color pipeline from dailies through to VFX, DI and archiving.
Weta Digital claim victory on “War for the Planet of the Apes”. Weta Digital has been at the cutting edge of visual effects design for nearly a quarter-century, during which time they produced some of the film industry’s most iconic visuals: the epic battles in TheLord of the Rings movies, for example, or the physics-defying fight scenes in various X-Men movies. And as for character modeling, well, they’ve done it all: from Gollum to Smaug, mutants to vampires, and King Kong to Neytiri. For their achievements, they have been awarded six Visual Effects Academy Awards and six BAFTAs, among numerous other accolades.
The Last Jedi VFX Breakdown Reveals The Work Of ILM’s VFX Masters If you’re actually surprised by anything you see in this behind-the-scenes breakdown, you’re clearly not up to speed on how a modern Star Wars movie is made. Even with JJ Abrams pushing to use as many real sets and costumes for The Force Awakens, there was still a tremendous amount of green-screen compositing and CG used in both that film and Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi.
My name is Sterling Osment, I am a self taught VFX artist – with a innate passion for creating visual effects in CG, it all started a long time ago when I was involved with a small startup studio in Brisbane Australia, we were using SGI’s, Lightwave and Softimage. I was exposed to the high end pipeline very early and immediately was interested in the media creation of this style. I attended a Alias Maya 1.0 and Max function / presentation – I was blown away.
Would you give us a little “top 5” list of tools?
- A big brain with octopus arms ( for multitasking )
- A heap of patience mixed with connections and friends that share the same kind of CG interests.
Like many Game of Thrones enthusiasts, we experienced withdrawal of our weekly dragon fix as Season 7 came to a close. Being equal part VFX-enthusiasts, however, we were excitedly anticipating the release of the CG breakdowns to see how some the series’ best effects yet came to fruition. One in particular caught our eye, a breakdown from Mackevision showcasing their convincing simulations of armies and ship fleets, and we were thrilled to sit down with Lead CG Supervisor Christian Zilliken and Head of Business & Legal Affairs, Heiko Burkardsmaier to hear more about it. Check out what they had to say aboutt techniques used working on this season.
Josh Clos works in 3D dynamic and procedural effects for television and commercials in New York City with a focus on effects involving particles, liquids, destruction and explosions. His breadth of work spans projects including Blacklist, Blacklist: Redemption, Notorious, The Tick, and the sigils teaser for Game of Thrones. His FX portfolio is stunning to say the least, and we’re thrilled that he has taken the time to contribute some of his techniques to the CGSociety community.
With North American and European studios dominating awards ceremonies and column inches, you’d be forgiven for assuming that’s where our industry begins and ends. But it’s a global affair, and amazing things are being created all around the world.
CGF are one such company, flying the flag for the Russian VFX industry and creating impressive work on a budget. Foundry Trends went East to find out more.
Award-winning creative production studio, Saddington Baynes, shares how they work together to stay ahead of the curve and craft new & innovative ideas. We have a particularly well-rounded skill set at Saddington Baynes. Our in-house expertise consists of everything from retouching still photography, to integrating CGI into live actions shoots. Our directors bring technical and creative solutions to whatever the client brief requires, allowing the team to achieve diverse delivery requirements for large scale projects. One thing you can say about Saddington Baynes is that we’re passionate. Coming from diverse creative backgrounds, our team rarely fit into pre-defined boxes. We look for questioning minds as well as beautiful portfolios. From exquisitely detailed photographic stills to conceptual particle animations, we celebrate creative risk-taking. Above all, our artists need to be courageous and take pride in their work.
Emma Watson is an amazing actress. After all, just look at her performance in her latest blockbuster Beauty and the Beast. But you’ll be even more impressed when you see what she had to work with. The movie is a mix of live action and animation, with Beast being played by Dan Stevens in an interesting suit…
“From one scene file, they can light 10, 20, 100 shots. We’ve seen a tremendous increase in our productivity.” How Katana helps SPIN VFX deliver hundreds of shots and work on 10 shows simultaneously.
It goes without saying that the CG on display is excellent, but bear in mind that this isn’t a run-down of the biggest or best visual effects projects of the year: it’s a run-down of the best visual effects breakdowns. Editing, presentation, and the quality of the making-of material on display all count for a lot here.
How FuseFX brought serious super power to the invulnerable, “Luke Cage”. Software used : Autodesk 3ds Max
What happens when a lifelong Marvel fanboy and Sr. VFX Supe at FuseFX gets tagged to work on Marvel’s latest superhero series, Luke Cage? He punches out enough super power to make bones break, buildings blow sky high – then viewer demand (at least speculatively), makes Netflix servers implode.
On the heels of the recent Luke Cage debut – and that now infamous two-hour Netflix outage – Greg Anderson gets on the phone from New York to effectively demonstrate how thoughtful planning, passion, and the right balance of VFX, puts true, super power, behind any project.
LOUIS MORIN ON THE REALITIES OF ‘ARRIVAL’ interview on CG Society
For freelancing Canadian Production VFX Supe Louis Morin, “Arrival” feels a bit like coming full circle. Cerebral, thought-provoking, not to mention visually striking, it nods to the classic that inspired his career choice: Kubrick’s, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Telling the story of a military-recruited linguist tasked to translate alien communications, Arrival had Morin leading a small legion of local VFX studios under Denis Villeneuve’s direction and was shot entirely in his home province of Quebec. Hailed as one of the best films of the year, Morin discusses the realities of making “Arrival” – the creative approaches and committed teams, the gut feelings and happy accidents, and of course, those understated, almost elegant photo-real effects. Software Used: Autodesk Maya, Autodesk Flame, Shotgun, Arnold Renderer
Louis Morin on the realities of “Arrival” interview with Autodesk
Fabian Nowak is an FX Lead/Senior FX TD at MPC whose work can be seen on films such as Passengers, Jungle Book and Guardians of the Galaxy to name a few. He was recently nominated to the VES Awards 2017 for “Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature” for The Jungle Book and has some valuable insight to share. Check out what he had to say about his experience working as a lead at the esteemed studio, as well as a few tricks of the trade for those in our audience who are carving a similar path.
Richard Hoover, Visual Effects Supervisor for Framestore Montreal, has been close to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, in varying degrees, since accidentally finding himself behind the scenes of the 1982 original. So it seems somehow natural that he would come to oversee some of the most demanding sequences for the 2017 sequel, Blade Runner 2049, directed by Denis Villeneuve. Here, Richard shares details of his background, his history with the franchise, and how Framestore pulled off some of the most visually compelling VFX shots filmgoers have yet to see.
Blade Runner 2049: Art of VFX Interview
Art of VFX interviews VFX producer, Karen Murphy, on her role on Blade Runner 2049. “Blade Runner is the holy grail of SCI FI and you have to have a lot of guts to even sign up for the task”. Karen Murphy began her career in the visual effects almost 25 years ago. She has produced the effects of many films such as TITANIC, WILD WILD WEST, HUGO and FURIOUS 7.
More about the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 VFX James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was a huge hit over this past summer and was jam packed with non-stop fun and creative visuals. Learn about what went into the film with behind the scenes looks, interviews with the visual effects team, and more.
Exclusive Interview with Marvel Studios’ VFX Supervisor, Jake Morrison
Exclusive Interview with Laika’s VFX Supervisor Steven Emerson
- Real-time playback of image sequences and movies
- Support for industry standard file formats including Cineon, DPX, OpenEXR, and QuickTime
- Command line utilities for batch processing
- Cross platform support for Linux, Apple OS X, and Microsoft Windows
VFX veterans look back on their early careers and share their most important lessons. Visual effects (VFX) encompasses many different interests and skill sets. That variety is exactly what makes working in this industry so attractive, but it also raises a lot of questions when you’re starting out and looking for your first real gig: How should I approach potential employers? What exactly do they look for? How will I differentiate myself? What qualities will make me successful? To get some answers, we spoke to five CG pros about their earliest days in the business and asked them to share the most important lessons they learned with us.
VFX Artists Touch Heaven and Earth for ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Teams at Rising Sun Pictures and Fin Design + Effects created exciting sequences, VFX and animation for Marvel’s ‘Thor: Ragnarok’, spanning heaven and earth, distant planets and dream worlds.
- A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A VFX SUPERVISOR, WITH GLENN MELENHORST
- Mies van der Rohe Farnsworth House by Alessandro Prodan
- HAMMERING OUT VISUAL EFFECTS FOR MARVEL STUDIOS’ THOR: RAGNAROK
- DNEG | BEHIND THE VFX: JAEGERS VS KAIJU
- ARTIST INSIGHT: STEVEN DUPUY
- CREATING VFX FOR GAMES, WITH HOUDINI ARTIST ANDREAS GLAD
- FEATURED STORIES
- Cinematic Director employs Character Creator, iClone & Blender in Epic Ancient Greece Film
- Cool Tutorial on 3ds Max’s Retopology Modifier
- DI4D introduces PURE4D, the world’s most precise pipeline for digital double facial animation
- VFX Breakdown by Industrial Light & Magic for The Mandalorian – Season 2
- Cinematic Director employs Character Creator, iClone & Blender in Epic Ancient Greece Film
- Passion Pictures Scales Animation with AWS
- Autodesk Accelerates Workflows Across Creative Tools
Andre McGrail is a freelance artist working in London. He studied multimedia in his native New Zealand, having been inspired to learn 3D as a kid by Saturday morning TV shows like Reboot and Starship Troopers. After failing his course for continually trying to bite off more than he could chew, he completed his education on the job, working as a 3D artist in advertising for five years before moving to Karactaz, an animation studio where his projects included working on TV series for Marvel Animation. Eventually, the call of adventure took him north (way north!) and he found himself in the UK.
Pulldownit is a brand new dynamics solver which allows for the creation of fractures as well as massive rigid bodies simulations. By using its technology digital artists are able to simulate fast and easily the collapse of buildings, cracking surfaces or fracturing any kind of brittle material.
MATHEMATIC specialising in high end CG and VFX for advertising, TV, Print, digital, serious, short and now long format films. Specialised Flame Artists, Shoot Supervision, Nuke, Luster and After Fx compositors, Smoke, DaVinci and FCP.
‘Data-Driven Real-Time Crowd Simulation’ Rowan Hughes
Visualisation of data in 3D, design and aesthetics based how that impacts through good design. How can we impact on processes through better visualisation, VR, design building from personal experience outwards to the design process. How data structures are being deal with including narrative structures and visual impact. In 2018, we are going to start our meetup with invited speakers, talking about WebGL, Cinematic VR, Collaborative AR/VR and beyond.
In order to create plausible virtual humans it is important to model their movement and interactions with their environment in an accurate and realistic manner. A lot of time and effort is spent by artists and engineers modelling user interactions with virtual agents with which the user acts directly. Virtual crowds, however, form an important component of virtual worlds. It is generally not feasible to author scripted behaviours and interactions for individual members large virtual crowds, and it typical to rely on systems that allow for autonomous navigation and behaviour. In this talk, we look at some solutions developed over the course of Rowan’s research.
We present a novel algorithm to model density-dependent behaviours in crowd simulation. Previous work has shown that density is a key factor in governing how pedestrians adapt their behaviour. This paper specifically examines, through analysis of real pedestrian data, how density effects how agents control their rate of change of bearing angle with respect to one another. We extend upon existing synthe vision based approaches to local collision avoidance and generate pedestrian trajectories that more faithfully represent how real people avoid each other. Our approach is capable of producing realistic human behaviours, particularly in dense, complex scenarios where the amount of time for agents to make decisions is limited.
Masters looking at real time rendering, skin. This talk is looking at Crowd Simulation in VR, improved behaviours inluding pedestrian steering.
Rowan’s research included creating models from Captured Data, the use of Particle Systems, Holonomic Collisions Avoidance for Virtual Crowds, the use of Mocap (the process of recording the movement of objects or people) on the shoulders for shoulder orientation.
Holonomic Locomotion: Holonomic robots are omnidirectional robots that can move in any direction from any orientation, creating an incredibly mobile robot. So, it’s easy to move the robot in a congested area. A four wheel drive (4WD) omnidirectional robot can be built using either mecanum wheels or omniwheels. Both wheel types are similar in that they have rollers mounted around the wheel’s circumference allowing for sideways movement of the robot. The difference between the two types is the angle at which the rollers are mounted at. This article looks at omnidirectional robots constructed with both types of wheels and includes software code for providing this control. The robots are constructed using the VEX Robotics building system.
Previous models turned like cars, holonomic models, side and back stepping. How close do you need to be, how to turn and when to turn for an animation database. If have a bunch of obstacles, know when they are going to hit based on the orientation and know how to orient the character. Looking for less collisions and better behaviour.
Geometric models are efficient, solving in 2D space with circles and boxes with maths equations. Went with a synthetic vision, each agent in the simulation renders the scene from their point of view. The scene is rendered for every character, if there are 2000 characters then rendered for all of the characters and this data, the visual perception data is used to solve the collision problems.
Prioritise non-collision at all cost. Two parameters to consider are the time to collision (TTC) and rate of change of bearing angle. Fragment shader gives the time to collision – ttc, if I’m going this way and your going that way, how soon are we going to collide.
Rate of change of bearing angle is not changing we are going to crash into each other. Increasing will pass in front of you, decreasing will pass behind you. Time to interaction.
Two ways to avoid, decelerate and turn. Looked at left and right avoidance angle, turning angles, velocity, current density for all the characters. As density increases, slow down and take bigger turning angles.
Parallel reduction, CUDA will sample every pixel and decide which is the worst one, that is the one to react to. Dealing with the most dangerous pixel in real time.
Do some calculations on the CPU and works out the goal velocity.
Humans are rendered as cones, which works well because can see over the shoulders with boxes and spheres cannot see over and do not work so well.
Studies for virtual crowns. Work on Crowd phobia, older people and how crowds affect their spatial memory, how people navigate such as how big and how dense does it need to be before you go all the way around.
A Creative Flight plan……and how 99% of the time we’re off course
Paul is going to finish up the Sydney ACM SIGGRAPH events for 2017 with a talk about projects, research, and planning. You’re probably very familiar with his work on Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Allegiant, Insurgent, Iron Man Three, Prometheus, and so many others. He’s an engaging and entertaining speaker, you should come listen to him talk and look at his pictures.
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Behind the scenes of Allegiant VFX breakdown by Animal Logic
Hologram Table Effect
Attempting to make something photo real and at the same time come up some ideas for the problems which could be a director saying ‘I do not really know what I want to do’. Had discussions around what to do, a new exploration and exploring shapes.
Holographic table – blend between organic and high teck. How much to give the audience and how much to tease them. Holding a cloud of light. Test on a black screen then have their own problems when put into a set.
Working on the UI elements – when there is a frame work sent to the art department to design the graphic and then animate all the elements as motion sequences. They were not all flat cards, giving them volumetric space.
When all the elements are put on top of each other they accumulate in light and gets flat very quickly. The use of back face culling for graphics such as culling out the landscape behind giving a sense of volume, cheating the depth of field and relighting the characters. Giving it a sense of shape and volume, designed as a volume, not for one camera and can then move cameras around, rendering any angle and giving reflections. Grading down the objects beside the holograms to give them a sense of shape.
Constantly roughing out the graphics and going back and forward between graphics and the editor.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Using crazy fractals, thinking about how can we light it to make it different and a bit interesting. Fractals give fine detail and are uncontrollable, need to be able to manipulate them to find the structure you want. Selected pieces, carved that section out and use it. Instead of using the houdini cloud and typologies it, they took the point cloud information using lidar scans and were able to build up the set quickly.
cineSync to link up quicktime and can draw on pictures
Light studies, change the time of day and put a light sky around it and remapped it. Relighting and regrading.
Simple geo structures with complex fractals, instanced it with spheres usually giving a rough surface then worked out how to take the normals off the fractals and bent the surface, manipulating the surface to appear smooth.
Real hands replaced by DG hands with fluid effect simulation with pulses running up the hands and seeing through the hands.
With Matte Paintings you can get a lot of detail in very quickly and is harder to change. Decided to build the garden with assets that can be generated and used the fractal generator that was being used. Made the garden realistic, to look like plants and when signed off shifted the colours about 10% to gave it a bit of an alien look.
Original set with actors on it then a background plate as a layout, tree assets and sky plates with the ground plates being replaced and rototed off. Needed to shoot some more plates, the lighting did not match so well with what had already been comped, then needed to relight some of the actors, 3D light, 3D pull down exposures on some things. Removal of elements because the sound had already been done. The matching up and pulling together of shots from different times.
Colour cast has to be fine tuned and colour graded.
From concept art to taking the live action, track it, take out the vectors and put through Houdini and scatter particles with the live action colours.
Took the basic ideas and started shaping the characters and built up the detail.
Rendered everything at 4K, the camera was so sharp when CG was rendered out at the resolution of the film it was looking softer against the actors. Scaled down the CG to match the same kind of sharpness of the camera.
If you were to add up all the hours that were applied to the show it would take you about 37 years, not including rendering.
SOME OTHER INTERESTING POINTS
In camera is always better, production design, liaising with crew and matching and choose elements with the camera, know how the camera would resolve it and it is invaluable.
The more set the better, for the actors who are not staring blindly into a scene. This works well in a film that is well written and well planned for production design, now the turn around is getting quicker and there is going to be a lot of change. A director that is good with scripts and writing, does not do vfx and can run on the fly with it and shape the film in the last 2 or 3 months with running cuts and marketing testing. The stress is on the post production companies.
Tend to design a team that is gorilla based, multiple talents and plan for expanding at the end when you can thrown a lot of fire power at it. Design in such a way, need an asset set up where you can reshape and get a result quickly which is probably not matte painting. People tend not to shoot movies very well, lack of structure, proper script, inventing the story and use move multi camera set ups.
Not too many options, people get confused, gave three ideas with options they really liked and take out the one they like least. Not ‘no’, offer options, cannot do this, we can do this. Not tell all the problems, say this is the problem. Job is to offer solutions. Towards the end of the film, everyone want to get to the end, just like everyone else. Do you like a, b or c.
Movies that explore new territory, not cover areas that the audience already knows, as an audience were ahead of the story and knew what was going to happen. Lacked mystery and twists with an inability to connect with the key characters, not believing the journey they are going to go on. The story rushed and disjointed. Have been there so why are we making this.
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JURASSIC WORLD BREAKDOWN REEL