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 4 3 the CG versions would not stand apart, yet the animation had to make them feel as if they are alive and part of the character. "It's an incredible amount of work – the roto alone that's needed to remove the practical wings and add the CG wings was unbelievable," Paterson notes. "We had to roto around clothing and other characters, and there are lots of crowd scenes in the episode – we had to get those wings in there between every faerie." For the mid- to near-ground faeries who fly, the actresses were filmed on wires against greenscreen. For one scene in par- ticular, however, a giant rig was constructed over the main courtyard set that enabled 16 to 20-some faeries to fly at a given time, making the transition to flight more seamless. "We weren't separating them out on greenscreen [for this sequence], even though it led to a lot of rotoscoping. But, it felt more realistic to have them walk through the set and then li up and fly out of there," Paterson adds. When the faeries appear midground to background, full-CG characters are used. Pixomondo was the main "wingman" for the majority of Season 1, and did quite a few shots in this episode, too. Technically more complex than the faeries in the episode were the marroks (werewolves), changelings that transition from human to beast form. "We scanned all the actors who had their own marrok, and we worked hard to ensure that the design of each was closely related to the actor playing that particular charac- ter through the use of skin tones and hair placements," says Paterson. Then, it was a matter of building out the creature. Paterson praises Image Engine's incredible work with the muscle systems and the skin, as these creatures have much more visible skin than the typically furred creature. Instead, these have mostly human skin covering an animal body shape. In one particularly scene, Vignette is flying back and forth across a ravine to help the soldiers secure an electrical line – which required a lot of transitioning between prac- tical and CGI character work. Then, a CG marrok attacks Philo on the same cliff until Vignette rescues him. The marroks appear in other scenes, as well, including one wherein three Pact soldiers strip naked in a forest and inject themselves with a serum, which causes them to transition into the beasts. Epic Worldbuilding The landscape in this episode is stunning, with breathtaking hills, towering mountains, and deep ravines. The episode was filmed in Prague and the nearby towns, where filmmakers captured the natural beauty of the environment. For instance, the open- ing sequence with Philo and the soldiers marching to the village was shot practically with CG extension work. The snow was real, thanks to a well-timed blizzard, which negat- ed the need for digital effects. For the most part, though, the plate photography in the episode was used for extreme close-ups. The wide establishing shots were a result of worldbuilding by ILP artists, who constructed the area near the walled-off Mimasery village including the forests and mountains around it. "One of the more excit- ing challenges for us was creating a believable world and planning it out. We received some fantastic artwork from the art department, but we also did some concept work our- selves," says Jacobson. The artists generated almost all of the environments with geometry due to the large number of shots taking place within the environment; there were only a few matte paintings, used in the establishing shots as the soldiers arrive. Once ILP received plate photography, the artists began the worldbuilding, carefully constructing and then incorporating the same type of trees and the specific type of rocks from the live-action plates into the digital environments. SpeedTree helped grow the trees. "The stones and mountains are very specific to this area, so we had to do custom texturing work to create the specific stones and so forth," notes Jacobson. Into this landscape, the ILP artists built the village, including a massive cathedral-like library holding sacred texts, maps, and technology research. The bottom two levels of the library were built practically and then digitally extended to a soaring height, allow- ing Vignette to fly upward while locating a particular book. "You don't know how high it actually is. You never quite see the top," says Paterson. A spinning rig lied up the actress from the set piece, and the effects were added later. While ILP had been using SideFX's Houdini for many years to create effects, this episode marks the first time the studio migrated fully to the soware as its primary package for worldbuilding and environment work, enabling the team to take advan- tage of all the tools that exist within that program. "We have been using Maya for many years, and we love it and still use it primarily for modeling, animation, and so forth. But, it was hard to assemble scenery, and it became Artists added the CG marrok to the scene, as well as CG wings for Vignette. The film plate with a stand-in for the marrok. Note Vignette without her wings.

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