We just launched a new video on our website: c4real.nl!
It shows you what we can do to show your clients your added value, since that’s ultimately what you want to sell!
Everything has been build from the ground up, we used some material of our use cases to show what we do. The characters and animation has all been done over the last 2 months. My main focus was on rigging the characters, making sure everything moved the right way. After the pre-final animation stage, I did the shading and lighting so the animator had more time to tweak the animations.
Hope you enjoy the video and be sure to leave some comments!
We recently finished a project for a building company called Dura Vermeer. This clip is all about telling the story, not about being visually impressive or having the most beautifull character animations, just explaining the whole point of the Lean building strategy. Unfortunately, the story is being told in Dutch, but I think the whole story is quite well told by what you see. The first part shows what’s going wrong in the building scene, the second part is how they want to improve it, the third part shows some interviews with people that have already been working with the Lean philosophy.
The whole first 3:30 of the clip are fully computer generated. Elmar actually spend a couple weeks doing all the 3D stuff by himself, only being helped on the rig and rendering by me. I also did the complex part of compositing those clips from the seperate 3D passes. We rendered the the scenes at least 3 times. I will break it down showing you what the results of each pass are.
This is the nature pass
First pass was just the nature, without any GI going on, since that’d simply cause the nature to go haywire with the noise because of the huge amount of undersampling you’re doing with GI and the huge amount of grass blades we had. We did place some additional lights to add some more detail to the trees, since they were quite flat with just the sun. We had to skip GI for rendering times as well, we didn’t have the time to have long renders. The nature pass took about 3-4 minutes per frame on a core i7 @3.6GHz system. Some noise reduction was done in post as well. The anti-aliasing was just not good enough to cope with the huge amount of grass blades, it simply was not able to pick out the right blades consistantly, so post-rendering noise reduction was the only way to get it done in time.
This is the character pass
The second pass would be with GI, of course prepassed to reduce the amount of flickering. It was merged with the first pass in Nuke, using ZMerge as well as some edge enhancing techniques, ZMerge isn’t anti-aliased, so that proved to be a bit of a challenge. The feet of the characters are not always cut off properly by grass blades and grass blades were through them at times, but we just didn’t have the renderpower to render them in 1 pass, since we needed GI on the characters and other objects that were not nature. At least, that’s what we thought, in retrospect, I know a way to get it done. It’s been great to have the passes split though, since the animations were constantly being adjusted and re-rendered. The way we did it made it possible to adjust the character animations without having to go through the long nature renders again. The character pass took about 30 seconds per frame (+10s GI prepass), which is not bad.
This is the shadow pass
The third pass was a fake shadow of the characters on the grass. We had a placeholder grass surface that was just the ground raised a couple centimeters to be at the top of the grass. This shadow pass was then multiplied over the rest of the passes, so the characters would actually cast a shadow on the grass. We had some soften filters on it to not make it to harsh, but all in all this proved to be a huge time saver, the shadow pass took about half a second per frame.
The composite has a couple of stages. I’ll show them in the order they are made. As you might notice, the backgrounds are not there, they are added last, to avoid problems with that and because we were not sure what we would do with it almost all the time through the project.
The composite of the nature and the seperate objects
This shows the nature and the objects with GI on them. We chose to seperate it from the characters, so the characters could more easily be made to stand out more and get seperate color correction. Now for a picture with the characters.
The composite after the characters are merged
As you might see, there is no shadow from the character on the grass or objects, since that’s a seperate pass as well. We really made it hard for ourselves, but in the end, with all the revisions, it was certainly worth the trouble. We can reuse this process almost instantly for other projects now.
The composite after the last shadows are added
The last pass is adding the background, which you can see in the final clip. It’s been really fun finding out how to do the seperation and merging of all the passes. It’s a lot of trouble getting edges right, but it was worth the trouble in the end.