Computer Graphics World

Edition 1 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 23 of 49

22 cgw | e d i t i o n 1 , 2 0 1 8 the HMS Surprise, built at MPC's Bangalore studio. While the construction was fairly straightforward, simulating the ropes in the rigging proved to be challenging and time-consuming. The other CG ship, the Flying Dutchman, was far more complicated. This ship com- prises more than 7,500 individual parts and approximately 80 million polys. And, the artists had to simulate everything from a single rope to an entire ocean in the scenes. Moreover, the MPC crew had to create an aging effect on the boat, which was done procedurally, and then have the vessel interact with the water. "There were a lot of elements and effects to create for a single asset," says Bohm. To bring a sense of reality to the scene, the artists opted against a model that was too fantastical, and instead based the look on an actual rotted ship. The team spent weeks creating the various elements to the ship, a lot of which is not even visible in the final film. "We wanted to give it this really specific look of an old, rotting ship, so we needed to cra all kinds of detail. Alongside all the elements that accumulate on the surface over time, like rust, barnacles, seaweed, and dirt, every plank needed to be procedurally modified as well, to look like the water has eaten into the wood," explains Bohm. In addition, the CG water had to react to the ship's movement. "It was crucial that when the ship emerges from the water, it looks believable," says Bohm. In terms of the ocean, the VFX artists created multiple water effects for the final look of the scene, including a big, stormy base with breaking waves, splashes, foam floating on the top, and the main splash hitting the boat. In fact, it took weeks to achieve the desired results and to manage the resulting simulations. "We had a huge amount of water flowing out of the hollow body [of the boat], but there were a lot of other creative elements needed in order to sell the effects. For example, we had water dripping from the ropes and sails, and flowing off the wood," says Bohm. "Even the sails themselves had to be simulated." Freezing Point As the spot progresses, the ocean waves turn into snow and ice, as the friends make their trek across the Himalayas, when sud- denly one spots some Heineken bottles on the ground. He takes a desperate drink only to find that the liquid has frozen. "Everything you see here is a mix of prac- tical effects and 2D elements, except for the wide opening shot," VFX artist Alessandro Granella points out. The scene was at an old mine outside Prague in June. To "winter- ize" the scene, artists created computer- generated snow in that first shot, using Autodesk's Maya and Houdini: Maya for the modeling, look development, and lighting/ rendering, and Houdini for the effects, such as the falling and blowing snow. Granella explains the process: "We tracked the shot and then created a new, wider camera from the first one. Then, aer modeling, texturing, and shading the ridge, we re-projected the actors onto moving cards and used those cards to re-render the actors through the new camera to get shadows and holdout for the FX passes." At the same time, Houdini artists created simulations for the snowstorm and the falling ridge, exported them into Maya, and then rendered them. Comp'ing was done in Foundry's Nuke. ...And Beyond In the next sequence, the four men are seen wearing futuristic pilot suits, as they direct their small craft into battle akin to a scene out of Star Wars. "We knew we were going to see the model [of the main spaceship] really close to camera, so we knew we needed a huge amount of detail in the geometry and textures," says Granella, noting that fine-detail variations like rust and small imperfections helped add to the model's realism. In the end, the spaceship model comprised 4,600 objects and was more than 20 million polygons in size. To avoid having the model look static, the artists added movement – the model has multiple rotation points on the wings, legs, and engine. Once the animation was completed, the group integrated it with the effects, creating interactions with debris, volumes, and dust systems. "We wanted to create the feeling of an 'alive' and danger- ous environment, so we added as many de- tails as we could, including animated parts inside the holes of the stations, debris, and reaction to the explosions," explains Granella. "All of those parts were also re- acting to each other, as were the lights." In addition, the artists added intensity variation to the lights, introducing details such as light alarms, making sure every- thing was reacting with the action and working visually. The friends subsequently land on the mothership and exit their spacecra, and as they walk across the hangar, steam engulfs them, and they emerge in a modern-day club. According to Granella, the team modeled rough shapes to use for previs, to define cameras and shots in the scene. Then they began detailing the space station until it looked believable in terms of scale and plausibility, using a modular approach that enabled them to add details and changes quickly. The entire model contains 93,000 parts and is built with 150 lights. Because of its size – 137 million polygons – the group divided it into parts, using Autodesk's Arnold for look-dev, lighting, and rendering. The space backdrop, meanwhile, is a matte painting, craed in Adobe's Photoshop and Nuke. The crew built the various-sized aster- oids using three different types of simulations and two different sets of geometry within Houdini, and then blended them together and rendered them in Maya. "Balancing all the elements [for the scene] was especially tricky, and in this sequence we have a lot of them," says Granella. "For example, there is the space- ship and space station, plus the debris, ex- plosions, smoke, and asteroids. We had to make sure we were not overdoing it, either by making the shot too busy looking or too clean. Even in the station itself, we had to balance the volume and scale of detail in each shot; too much detail would make it feel too busy, but on the other hand, not having enough would remove the realism." The commercial ends as the men toast one another with Heineken from a balcony overlooking a CG cityscape. One asks, "So what do we do next?" Then they see a steampunk zeppelin appear (containing 2,500 CG moving mechanical parts), and find themselves dressed for another epic adventure. "This is without a doubt some of the best work I've done in my career. I have worked on movies before, but with much bigger teams, so the shots I worked on in this film feel like a much bigger achievement," says Bohm. – Karen Moltenbrey

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Computer Graphics World - Edition 1 2018