Computer Graphics World

September/October 2013

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Broadcast in LightWave's Layout environment. Instead of a single-objecttype of "one bone, Layout now has a joint-type of bones with " a node that establishes where the joint is. Two nodes establish a deformer between the two joints. And that change alone has made rigging in Layout more sophisticated. "You can actually get smoother transitions and smoother deformations using the joints than you could by using the bones, he says. "This gives " you more flexible, better-quality, and more predictable results. " Adding the Details For texturing and adding fine detail to the creatures, including the hellbugs, CG Artist Doug Drexler often used Pixologic's ZBrush, streamlined through the GoZ ZBrush plug-in. "In my opinion, ZBrush works best when you have a polygon mesh you already built into your 3D program, and you let ZBrush sculpt all the fine detail you want to put on it, Toves " was done in ZBrush. Jackson explains the process. "Using the guide chains generated out of ZBrush, we could generate the final hair system in Fiber FX, LightWave's own fiber rigger. The guides for Irisa's hair then became a separate object parented to her head. You can light the hair in your scene along with your object, and both the hair and object take light the same way, which adds to the credibility of the effect. " The clothing on the digital actors was handled by using softbody dynamics, which in a time crunch was deemed a faster method than using cloth simulation. According to Jackson, on a TV budget, it is best to shy away from making extensive use of digital actors, especially for close-ups. "It's a hard sell not only because of the surfacing of the skin, but also the subtle dynamics of secondary facial movements and the way softbody muscles and skinning [lays] over bones. Getting all these little, subtle things right is extremely difficult to do on a TV budget and schedule. " The LightWave platform inherently supports objects created using previous versions, so the team believes that any 3D creatures and visual effects created for season one will be usable again in season two when they expect to make the leap from LightWave 11.0 to 11.5. With production about to ramp up for season two, the CG team is looking forward to solving new creative challenges and finding resourceful workarounds for new problems. They hope that the show's writers will let their imaginations run wild, ■ THE HELLBUG skitterlings (above) and the Volge (right), both CG characters, menace the Defiance settlers. says. "There are newer methods in ZBrush that allow you to work without a base mesh, but different artists can move forward with things like rigging or previs if they start with that base mesh, updating as needed without having to wait for one process to finish. " In the final episode of season one, digital actors were used in a few matte-painting shots for risky action scenes and stunts. Specifically, Drexler used ZBrush to sculpt digital actors in the likeness of Nolan and Irisa, who has distinctive, wild red hair. For the hair, the artists used the LightWave hair creation system and then the digital hair system within ZBrush to refine the look. Next, using LightWave's Fiber FX, the animators could follow those polygonal guides to match the styling that 46 ■ CGW Sep t em ber / O c t ober 2013 dreaming up new creatures, explosions, and virtual scenes so they can push the boundaries of their skills to bring those visions to life. ■ CGW Claudia Kienzle is a New Jersey-based freelance writer specializing in all facets of digital media. She can be reached at

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