Zain Help – Intro and Outro



Zain Help is a tv show or more likely a short section sponsored by Zain Telecom for which this two pieces were created. The first idea was to develop an animation using negative space, but due to Zain’s brand guidelines constraints, I was unable to create. As a brand. Zain, is well designed, and quite strong. It has that feeling of modern branding, simple and straight to the point. Sometimes the application of this “straightforwardness” draws the graphics extremely simple hence it starts kinda defeating the purpose of the branding manual itself.

Since all the actions in the “piece” have to be surrounded by the “active pattern” I thought that maybe the pattern itself could be the centerpiece of the animation. I took the illustrator curves for the pattern and took them to Maya, where I built the geometry in Nurbs for the thin colour lines.

And it started like that, first the illustrator curves for the active pattern were taken to maya and extruded along a path. I needed them to be Nurbs because they are lighter on the graphics card, and i wanted to tweak the curves later to get a nice looking shape.

Then, it looked kinda like this…

What you can see getting thick blue is … yes, what u think it is… wire frame. I told you guys that it was geometrically Nurbs which is lighter on the graphics card for many reasons which i’m not planning to elaborate now, but the main thing about Nurbs is tesellation. Believe me, I’m a nurbs junkie, it was the first geometry I’ve learned to model onto in Maya 4 and I still find it extremely versatile and cool to work with… clearly not in this case. This thing was un-renderable. Latest 12 core Xeon, 32 gig ram could not render this… Maya 2008, 2010, 2011 could not render this…

The solution I’ve found was to convert it yo polys and that’s what’s on the screenshot. What did we end up with… a 2 gig file of “good old polys boy”. After tweaking and setting the render properly, it worked flawlessly with final gather and everything. Although, all this was just for a kind of animatic/mood-board, and after converting our friends to polygons you can forget about animating the extrude. I wanted to do a flow path for the animation, but as you can see there are way too many streaks to animate. Ok since this was done in a span of 3 days (weekend included sadly enough) there was no time to build a new rig or anything or start from scratch. Working with 2 gig poly files is something I do not enjoy particularly. Many crashes, and like 5 mins to save the file at least praying for Maya not to crash while translating the scene.

The answer: Animated shaders. Not the nicest way to go, I know it. But during the time frame till the deadline, animating the textures in Maya for all those objects and rendering with the same sampling (which was quite high) was the way to go. Full on. Rendering surface shaders with animated black and white ramps with no raytracing in mental ray is extremely fast even with all this geometry. I could re render the animation if i didn’t like it in less than 20/30 mins.

There you got, a few surface shaders and the animation curves. If you are wondering about the steps in the curves, is because of the different shots. I have like 4 to 6 animated cameras, and creating curves for all of the to be continuous can be very time-consuming you in this case is easy to fake continuity.

What else is there… lots of utility nodes, various mia_exposure_simple to preview my renders in sRGB and output linearly and the ones which are taking more space, gamma nodes. The gamma nodes are mainly (in my workflow at least) used to linearize my textures. in this case there are only few textures if there’s any but as I said before, Zain has a very strict branding guide, in which of course they have a nice spare chapter just for brand colours and how they should be used. They give you RGB and CMYK. Hence as any other thing you see in the monitor, if it looks good on-screen it means it has a colour profile hanging around there. So I created a ramp node with just one value, no ramping, just the colours from the manual in RGB and plugged those into the gamma nodes for them to look the same or closer to the actual brand colour.

After all this set up, render time!

The animation needed to have the pattern floating around there, as it’s name implies “active pattern” so it follows the actions. My proposal was to use Fusion’s 3D particles. I exported the camera in FBX and took it to Fusion where I animated the emiter in 3dspace to match the scene accordingly. Since is the same camera and animation the render was very simple to set. Also, for the background I used a passive pattern. Which the Zain boys were happy to provide. Although in my version it’s animated with some perlin noise in grey scale. That mapped into a Fusion sphere primitive and since I had the camera there, it was rendered in the comp. You can see this in the upper left corner with it’s render on the side. Then the final render and the render I got straight out of Maya. Below the particle right with lights and shadows and some of the textures used for the pattern. The “depth of field” was achieved with fusion’s depth tool. Motion blurred with reals smart motion blur using La maison lm_2DMVshader out of maya. Kinda old school but production proof, that’s how I roll haha.

And that’s about it, there’s a reflection pass added later (like two months later) due to an agency change but they loved it and didn’t ask for any change, which was a relief.

Hope you like the walk thought.

And if you are still thinking “is this guy still using Maya 2008?!” Die antwoord is YES! Still rocking it. I find the new ones extremely clunky and slow to work onto. And to be honest I was planning into moving to renderman and the only version I have for renderman server has plugins till Maya 2008 =)


Shangri-la – Abu Dhabi

Although not the final online or audio, the edit remains the same, just my version lacks of branding =)

I will post a little before and after as in the Qatar post later on, meanwhile you can check the crystal clear video. Lots of grading and clean up, also, the dark shots required an incredible amount of de-grain, details to be posted later on with the images.

Qatar international women forum

HD version available on vimeo click here!

Simple and nice project. No fancy stuff here. Some stabilization, cleanup and grading. This project was shot in the “Pre Epic-M days” with a MarkII and lovely Zeiss lenses. After the edit, all the footage was exported in Tiff. Then I’ve treated in nuke to reduce the rolling shutter and optical flow. Afterwards had to rebuild the edit in Generation and start the grading and Noise reduction in Fusion.
I’m quite satisfied with the colour, hence here it is for your own eye pleasure!

And here you have a before and after for a few shots, you can also check the compression artefacs and how the treatment affected them.

Trapiche – Extra brut

Slightly larger video available in vimeo click here!

My last commercial in Argentina before Dubai 2.0

I was only assigned one shot for this piece and it’s the one @ 00:00:14 (the one in the thumbnail). Only balloons and a background completely CG. Balloons were animated and simulated in Max and rendered in Vray by the 3d team @ Shango VFX.
Compo done by me in Fusion. Commissioned by Shango Films, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
It’s a shame I do not have a breakdown for this, I do not even have the Hd version.

Thanks to Patricio Barreiro, who sent me this improved yet not HD version of the online.

Dubai cares – Walk for education

You can watch the video directly on vimeo click here!

This piece was animated in Maya 2010 and rendered in toon shader. The main problem I’ve encountered was that when I received the FBX file, it didn’t match the timing of the render, although the camera animation was correct. The problem was the use of a new Feature in maya 2010 to stretch the animation, which apparently, is not baked or translated into the FBX file during export. Finally the guys ended up stretching it the old-school way and correcting the animation curves and re-rendering.

My part was the look development and technical creation plus compositing of the piece. I’ve got a reference and I needed to emulate basically three concepts, chalk feeling, detail and depth. For which I used Fusion’s 3d environment and the camera I’ve got from the guys over FBX.

Bipin Vinayan, the studio’s animator drew the objects in a chalkboard and then photographed them. The resulting images, were later imported in Fusion where I created a transparency map by channels or keying.

They girl went through a little test phase, and we experimented different looks and passes to achieve the desired texture. In the end was a mixture of two layers from Maya, After effects for those two layers and then some Fusion. Part of the progression is shown next.

After the images were treated for transparency and colour, I’ve positioned all of them in 3d planes in Fusion’s 3dspace, and set all the render nodes. The project was fully rendered in OpenGL. You can see the 3d setup and the flow in the next image, click for a larger version.

So, the setup was done, the comp was there, It was just a case of pressing render and we were ready to go! If you’ve seen the video, you know the result, but to get there I needed many different passes to composite together. For the interested ones, some of the passes are shown in the next image, a few are missing because they are not present thought out the timeline, but trust me, they are there!

So basically that’s all guys, particles, where pre rendered for performance and added later mapped into a plane as the background or all the other images used. That’s about it, hope u enjoyed!