Computer Graphics World

September/October 2013

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of 3D objects and environments, was amassed during the past 10 years. It includes CG work the artists previously developed while working together on Battlestar Gallactica, Blood and Chrome, and other Syfy series. Among the ready-made assets in the library are virtual environments, tanks, boats, vehicles, plants, trees, and scenic elements. The artists also have access to the vast resources of the Defiance online video game that are being developed by animators at Trion concurrently with the TV show. The Trion and TV show teams collaborate closely and, in many cases, trade 3D models and other assets or modify the look of creatures based on each other's designs. To create the McCauley Mines, a labyrinth of underground tunnels and corridors, Jackson placed a variety of CG elements in that environment, including tunnel sections, doorways, corridors, and hero prop pieces. "These items were individually placed to custom fit the scenes they were in, as it was crucial that those elements be exactly where we wanted them to be to 'seam up' with the elements in the live plates, he adds. " motion of the Matron herself as a reference object. So as she moves, the displacement maps become exaggerated, thereby producing an organic motion that is tied directly to the motion of the matron which gives it a sense of lag, Jackson says. " The Matron rig took two days to build and two additional days to test and fine-tune. Streams of 3D slime and drool spilling from the matron's chest to the base of the nest were created using LightWave HyperVoxels, which produces volumetric fluid effects. "Those ribbons of slime were set up as a series of points that were actually sculpted to look like ribbons of slime. HyperVoxels let us add a volume-based effect to that point system. You can either generate the HyperVoxels from a particle system, or you can generate them off the points of an object. In the case of the Matron bug, we were actually doing both, " says Jackson. In fact, there are two varieties of hellbugs: skitterlings (which includes the queen) and archers. The archer, which only appeared in two shots during season one, is a large flying insect. Instancing, however, was used to clone repeatable objects, such as Gulanite crystals that line the walls of the mines and rocks that line the floor. While these objects were instanced, they were used and put together in new ways so that each section of the mine had its own distinctive look. ■ MOST OF THE ACTION is filmed against greenscreen and added into all-CG environments. Bad Bugs The dark, dirty McCauley Mines is the setting where viewers first get a look at one of the most ominous creatures in Defiance known as the Matron. The Matron, which is the queen of the hellbugs, stands as tall as a three-story building but is often shown coiled up in her nest. Due to the physics and inertia involved, the Matron moves in a slow, deliberate, lumbering manner that belies her massive size and sense of weight. Her body has a crab-like shell and her head emerges from between two brain lobes. To create the movement of the brain lobes, the team used a set of displacement maps – limited to certain areas by weight maps – that were constantly moving over the brain to make it undulate. The body, head, and brain lobes, meanwhile, were all isolated by weight maps controlled by separate bones. "Those displacement maps were also tied to the actual For swarms of flying insects, the group created and repeated 30-frame flight cycles that, when applied to the insects, enabled the artists to manually control. Skitterlings – a type of hellbug that's ubiquitous in season one – are large spider-like insects (the size of small dogs) that crawl from under buildings and scamper through interiors and up walls. While the Matron moves in a slow, deliberate manner, its skitterling offspring are hard-shelled like crabs whose movements are very spry, aggressive, and downright crazy. The skitterlings have personalities, thanks to some of the artists who created them, including Toves, Jackson, and Sopata. "For the hero skitterlings, we preferred to use our own custom rigs, " Jackson says. "So the result was that each of the skitterlings had a slightly different personality. " Individual MDDs were preferred for hero bugs, but when there was a swarm, instancing was used instead. While some creature rigs were built in LightWave's modeler, most fine adjustments and modifications to the rigs or creature were made C G W S e p t e mb e r / O c t o b e r 2 013 ■ 45

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