2014 Installment baby, first release of the year!
Camilla Skovgaard is a very cosmopolitan shoe designer who hails from Denmark with a very particular and edgy style. This shortfilm almost 4 mins. long directed by Ali F. Mostafa (Director of City of life Site Official – IMDb) and shot in -hot.and.sticky Dubai-. The film was produced to be premiered at Paris and NY Fashion weeks.
Shot in Alexa, edited, graded, comped + all CGI done @ Optix Digital Pictures Dubai during 2012.
I loved working on this project, although it was very hard work. I’ve got all the shots with no green-screen, which should be read as “Dude u need to roto everything”… All the roto was done in Mocha and then the shapes taken to Smoke. Which basically lead to find a bug in the Mocha export module for Autodesk products, which after reported and confirmed (is supposed) to be fixed now.
I will try to post a few before and afters if I ever find the Smoke archive (I know, I always say that…) but I doubt so since it was around 200GB and thankfully off my Stone array now. (This was done with an older storage I had for Smoke which was very small and slow, 400 mb/s, not the nicest.
The asian actress in the bathroom had a terrible acne problem at the time of the shoot, I’ve reconstructed her face almost entirely as seamless as I could, part of it in Smoke and part of it in Mocha.
Lot’s of CGI, I wish I had the chance to comp the moth but this time. Also I wish smoke had a projector like Flame, but again, not for you, not today!
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 =)