Espen Nordahl, CG Supervisor at Storm Studios, knew Yeti was the right choice when tasked with bringing the head of a CG teddy bear to life in a recent commercial. We asked Espen to tell us about his experience with Yeti on this and other projects and here’s what he had to say:
“I was the CG supervisor on this Norwegian commercial we did over a few weeks this summer. The sequence is a montage of a young boy’s memories of his relationship with his teddy bear. In these memories the bear is the same size as the boy and they vary between moments where they were happy or scared, plus a couple of teddy gags. The shoot involved another child wearing a stuffed teddy bear costume, and we were tasked with replacing the parts of the suit that didn’t work on the shoot – which mostly meant replacing the live action head with a CG version, as well as patching up unwanted seams in the suit.”
Nordahl continued, “We use Yeti for all of our fur and hair needs at Storm, because it’s simply the best off-the-shelf solution out there. The node-based workflow for grooming is something that appeals a lot to the way we work, and having a Maya-centric pipeline means it fits right in without having to jump through a bunch of extra hoops.”
“I really like where we ended up on the look and feel of the fur, and the team did a fantastic job. This was a fun and relatively straightforward project, and we solved it without bumps along the way, which is always refreshing when you’re on a tight schedule”, Nordahl added.
When we asked if there was anything else he’d like to share about working with Yeti, Nordahl told us, “I want to stress the importance of having a good fur/hair shader, both for the final results of the shots and also the process. If you have a physically based shader that behaves predictably under any lighting condition it means you spend minimal time tweaking shader parameters, and instead focus all your efforts on the actual groom. Once you have your fundamentals in place, most of your look and “feel” of the fur – as well as the realism – will come from the grooming itself, so the more you get to focus your time on that the better.”
He also went on to say, “We use the alShaders package for Arnold here at Storm, which has a hair shader that looks great out of the box. Being able to use brute force indirect lighting is something that takes what used to be a tedious setup of treating fur lighting separately from regular lighting, and instead lets you treat them like any other shots. Rather than fiddling with cheat lights, shadow settings and light linking, you can do it properly and proxy model the set and have light bounce around naturally in the scene, which both makes the process a lot simpler and gives a very natural feel to the lighting with very little effort.”
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us and share your great work, Espen!
Watch the full spot here:
We asked Joakim Eriksson, Lighting VFX Artist at Fido, to tell us all about their experience with Yeti and here’s what he had to say:
“Have you ever seen a cat in a desperate attempt to catch a chocolate addicted mum’s attention by doing yoga? Probably not – but it’s a fun concept! Our team at Fido was asked whether it was possible to make a realistic cat in full CG and although challenging, we were all very keen to tackle it. As I’ve worked on both furry and creature projects at Fido as a Lead Lookdev artist in the past, I was asked to be involved in this project to contribute my knowledge and experience.”
“The challenge for each new project, and it is important to ensure that you do what is best for each individual project, is the direction you should take and what tools to use to achieve the best possible result. When creating an animal like a cat the focus is to make the fur as believable as possible, where every fibre is crucial in fooling the viewer’s eye, and you need flexibility to achieve these results. It was a couple of years ago that we were introduced to Yeti from Peregrine Labs and we haven’t looked back.”
“Yeti has become one of our primary tools that has been used for many different assets including fur, feathers, or other geometry such as landscape, stone, etc. I knew we could rely on Yeti for Chocofresh as it would be powerful enough to provide the look we were after yet simple to use, even for those who have never used it before, allowing us to iterate quickly for the production.”
“We were very happy that we made the choice; grooming was fast and predictable and there was a lot of flexibility offered by the procedural node graph (which I love) – it is such a great tool! Another area that worked particularly well in the Chocofresh production was that we could easily do shot-based fur direction and changes without having to modify the original asset.”
“In short, Yeti is a great tool! It is smooth and works like a charm. We really enjoy using it at Fido and our clients are satisfied with the result! Could we do this without Yeti? My answer to that would be: How?”
Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your experience working with Yeti, Joakim. We love this spot!