Computer Graphics World

September / October 2017

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26 cgw s e p t e m b e r . o c t o b e r 2 0 1 7 placed on the ground, when the audience can see an intimate connection between the baby and the stork," Bryan explains. A Stork Is Born To create the character, the group collect- ed hundreds of images and closely studied proportion, shape, and all the minute details of a stork's body, such as its beak, eyes, and legs. "It's fascinating to learn how many intricate details this character, which we initially considered as relatively simple, has in reality," says Madeddu. Michael Diprose, one of the lead artists, modeled the stork's body from scratch. "A lot of anatomy study took place while we were modeling, especially for the head proportions and all the finer details, as we were pushing for such a high level of realism," Madeddu points out. Once the base model was complete, the artists then began sculpting character-enhancing details, such as wrinkles and creases. "We were quite surprised by the number of imperfections a stork's beak actually has," notes Madeddu. The feathers were also an important detail. An average-size bird can have up to 8,000 feathers, but something like a stork or a swan can reach much higher numbers, Madeddu points out. "Feathers cover 85 percent of a stork's body, so we're talking about 22,000 feathers," he adds. "We looked very closely at footage and pho- tography to understand exactly how they behave, from a single feather's movement to how a clump of feathers respond to the bending of the neck." The artists created the feathers using a system that was built by MPC London's Creative Director Diarmid Harrison-Murray, based on a Side Effects Houdini fur setup the facility evolved to create state-of- the-art feather soware. "It's robust and flexible tech that we can extend and adapt for different jobs," says Christian Bohm, senior technical director on the job. As Bohm explains, the system had to be developed slightly for this project, since the feathers of a stork are unique in the way that they create a very closed and smooth sur- face in one area and clearly visible, separate feathers in other areas. He says, "We added a way of bending the feathers slightly, for example, so we could create a soer look for the overall surface where needed." The Houdini fur system enabled the team to cra the feathers "down to every single strand," says Bohm. The system was separated into two parts – the body and the wing feathers, which are both fairly dif- ferent in the way they behave. A lightweight representation of wing feathers were ani- mated within Autodesk's Maya, and then replaced at render time with "fully-fledged" feathers in Houdini, before being rendered THE STORK HAD TO LOOK REAL AND MOVE IN A REALISTIC WAY ON THE GROUND AND IN THE AIR. THE ARTISTS HAD TO FACTOR IN THE WEIGHTED BUNDLE WHILE ANIMATING THE BIRD.

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