Computer Graphics World

Edition 2 2020

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e d i t i o n 2 , 2 0 2 0 c g w 1 5 The team referenced Frank Miller's wolf from his comic "300" and created concept designs for several types of wolf, in both naturalistic and fantasy styles, with the final creatures having a more realistic look but are larger than a typical wolf to make them more menacing. The artists began craing the beasts by first researching wolf fur textures, coloring, and behavior. Sam Lucas, head of modeling, built the wolf models in Maya, then used ZBrush for the finer details around the paws, face, and mouth, as well as for the muscle definition. The group used Peregrine Labs' Yeti for the groom, giving the artists flexibility to play with the look and feel of the fur, and Ziva's rigging and animation soware for the muscle systems. "The alpha wolf needed to be white; the second in command, black; and the other three variations were selected from real-life wolves by the client – these were gray and two variations of brown," explains Crowley. "Since wolves' fur color is typically made up of multiple shades, we incorporated three color maps to drive the initial variations for one wolf's fur, using root, mid, and tip color maps that would stipulate how a single hair strand would be shaded. We also added randomized mutant hairs and melanin in the shader to push the individual looks. From there, we also had to make two grooms for each wolf: a dry groom and a wet groom." As Crowley points out, it was imperative that the fur looked and flowed naturally with the dynamics. Likewise, it was important that the bulk and mass of these huge beasts were properly portrayed in the renders with the multiple lighting setups. Milk's culminating sequence in Cursed has Nimue, Merlin, and Morgana trying to escape the Paladins. As they are crossing a narrow footbridge above a huge waterfall, Nimue is shot with an arrow, then another, eventually tumbling from the bridge into a pool of water far below. Not only did Milk create the waterfall and the environment around it, but also the digital takeovers required in the scene. "It is a big drama scene in a tiny space, which made it more challenging – with most of it completed and delivered in lockdown," says Crowley. The sequence was shot outside on a backlot against bluescreen. The set build consisted of the bridge, with everything else created digitally, including the waterfall, digi-doubles of Nimue and the Paladins, the rain, and Merlin's magical lightning bolts from the storm he whips up as he slowly regains his power. The artists developed the 3D asset of the environment, while the FX team created the water simulations and the waterfall (in just seven weeks during lockdown), as the latter was broken up into several layers of simulation, including water surface, foam, spray, and mist. For the digi-doubles, scans of the actors playing Nimue and the Paladins in the scene were provided by production and rigged and groomed with cloth sims applied to the clothing. These were used in wide shots and for takeovers when the characters fall into the water. "We wanted to cover all bases in terms of character detail, and what helped us mas- sively was having a full-3D scan of Nimue for our assets team to begin modeling her digi-double. All of the base mesh was done in Maya, then we moved to ZBrush to get all the extra detail in the skin and clothes. The textures were made in Mari and were either hand painted or derived from on-set element reference, with look-dev done in Maya using [Autodesk's] Arnold," Crowley explains. "We then passed the character on to our creature FX team, which handled all types of character deformation, such as cloth and hair simulations; the groom for Nimue was achieved using Yeti." In terms of Nimue's fall, actress Katherine Langford was shot against bluescreen on the backlot on a harness with crash mats; Milk removed the rigs and added the CG waterfall and the CG set extension at the bottom of the waterfall. In addition, the studio did some digi-double takeovers for the dramatic point when Nimue loses her grip on Merlin's hand and plunges down into the mist. The artists also made digi-doubles for the Paladins who are killed and fall from the bridge during the fight, allowing CG takeovers in several of the shots with added blood splatters in the vein of Frank Miller's comic art. Ultimate Cliff-hanger Season 1 ends with the waterfall sequence, but is it the end of the series? Many ques- tions were answered and issues resolved, but others remain. Reviews have been positive, leaving the door open to a Season 2 if Netflix chooses to open it. "The way Frank and Tom told this story is very interesting. Initially, the characters feel unfamiliar to us in terms of the Arthurian legend, but gradually the pieces come together as you start to realize who the characters are within the existing mythology, and that's very intriguing and exciting, and opens the door for a much bigger story to be told," says Houghton. As for the magic, that was contributed by the visual effects artists, modern-day "magic folk." Karen Moltenbrey is the chief editor of CGW. Artists at Milk craed this extensive environment, including the CG waterfall.

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