Triggerfish Animation Studios chose Yeti for Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes

When tasked with building a variety of characters for two short films based on much-loved author Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes stories, Triggerfish Animation Studios chose Yeti to create fur and hair. Produced by Magic Light Pictures, the films premiered on BBC One in December 2016 and will be doing the festival circuit as well as TV and DVD releases this month.

We caught up with Mike Buckland, Head of Production at Triggerfish, to learn more about their process and how the artists used Yeti.

“The Revolting Rhymes films are divided into two ‘worlds’ – the Main Story, where the fairytales are visualized, and the Frame Story, where the narrator exists. The Main Story world is very stylized, with hair and fur treated with a sculpted approach, whereas the Frame Story world is done in a more realistic style, and for this we used Yeti for the hair and fur. In this Frame Story there were five characters with human hair, two human characters who wore fur coats, and three versions of the Narrator Wolf (two with different outfits and one unclothed). Because these all looked vastly different, and needed different functionality, we used different approaches for the different Yeti nodes.”

© Magic Light Pictures Limited 2016

“For the Narrator Wolf, we used Yeti grooms for the areas with short fur, namely the face, ears, and limbs. However, the directors wanted a very specific stylized, clumpy look for the head, neck and tail fur, and for this we used curves exported from Zbrush, and used them as guide curves. We had to build some custom tools to be able to change the Yeti attributes for a number of selected curves at once, and to make it easier to “brush” the curves in Maya, although this remained tricky and unintuitive. We did eventually get exactly the look the directors wanted, styling each clump’s guide curve individually by brushing it and adjusting its Yeti attributes. The guide curves were a bit tricky to use in the animated shots because we didn’t have a chance to rig them, so we had to adjust them at the origin, instead of on the posed character. The clumps under the neck tended to crash through one another when the Wolf moved his head, so there was a lot of brushing to be done per shot. The Yeti grooms behaved very well in the shots though, and we had to make very little use of corrective grooms.”

“For the fur coats the directors wanted a messy, uneven look, so we again used guide curves, some created in ZBrush and others brushed in Softimage. We were very happy with the final look, but the large number of curves needed for the entire surface of each fur coat made scenes with the coats very slow and heavy. Luckily they featured in far fewer shots than the Wolf.”

© Magic Light Pictures Limited 2016

“We used curves for the human hair as the characters have very styled hair: the Babysitter has tight pin curls, Red Riding Hood has impeccable 50’s waves, Snow White has very defined clumps in her fringe, and the little girl has has two pigtail chignon buns. The curves were created in Softimage and converted to Yeti strands. For the most part the curves were static, but some of them had to be rigged in order to prevent long hair from crashing into the character’s geometry.”

“We are very happy with the final result and have been overwhelmed by positive feedback.”

Fur/hair credits:

Hair artist and technical lead: Sue Sauer

Fur artist: Liesbeth Gouws

Additional shot-based artists: Sam Hillebrand and Jarryd Muir

ZBrush and texturing artist: Danie Malan

Shading artist: Kevin Van Den Oever

TD: James Bihl

 

Platige Image chose Yeti to create CG Bisons

Our long time customer, Platige Image once again chose Yeti to create CG bisons in the most recent Zubr beer commercial and used it for the fur, snow instances and simulations with amazing results.  We were fortunate to speak with one of their artists, Grzegorz Jankowski, who told us about his experience working with Yeti for this spot and others.

“We chose Yeti for this project as we have been using it for Żubr beer commercials for a couple of years now.  Yeti is really fast to groom with and easy to add custom attributes. We have some experience with Yeti instances and we even did some plant simulations combining Yeti with Maya nHair for other projects.”

He went on to tell us that, “In this commercial, we decided to add snow on the fur with Yeti instances. I ran some tests with simple planes, later with boxes and when we were happy with the result, our artist created some snow chunks and scattered them on the fur using an additional density map. While this work was underway, I did some fur simulations and when I was happy with them I used the same setup to simulate snow chunk instances. The bisons and snow chunks were rendered with Arnold.”

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us and for continuing to use our tool, Platige!

Log into Facebook to view the final spot here and enjoy this fantastic breakdown.

Yeti Breathes Life into CG Teddy Bear

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.”

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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.”

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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:

Yeti helped Fido bring this Yoga Cat to Life

When tasked with creating a cat that specializes in downward dog, our product, Yeti helped Fido bring this Yoga Cat to life in a new commercial for ChocoFresh.

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!

Things get “Hairy” in Sausage Party

In the hilarious new animated feature film, Sausage Party, things get a little “hairy” with the help of Yeti. Nitrogen Studios‘ Senior Lighting Supervisor, Laura Brousseau, was kind enough to chat with us about how and why they used Yeti for this project.

“All of the work on Sausage Party from storyboards to edit was done at Nitrogen Studios. We did not have any specific sequences that required hair but more a large group of very diverse assets that needed some kind of hair. We had hair that went from very short and simple to beards and moustaches to crazy curly masses of hair almost all of which needed some kind of interaction with other assets. On top of that, we had a variety of foliage including grass, hedges, flowers, plants and even hay that needed to be created. We focused on great design, sim to support the animation style and shading and lighting that balanced our creative aesthetic with our rendering budget.”

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When asked why they decided to use Yeti, Brousseau said, “Nitrogen Studios had previously used other hair systems and while each had its strength, we saw Yeti as potentially being better at supporting the needs of Sausage Party. The flexibility, available tools and integration with Pixar’s RenderMan allowed us to hit all the different looks we needed to and support the demands of a show with a stylistic approach to animation. To add to that, we had crew members that had used Yeti before and they were keen to work with it again.”

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Nitrogen also told us that, “Yeti allowed us to balance our creative goals with our schedule and budget. We had a fairly small amount of ramp-up time for our hair workflow but Yeti is intuitive and we had great support from Peregrine Labs, even getting a visit from Colin Doncaster, CEO, to help us get started. While we did have some challenges with some difficult simulations and a few shots with heavy rendering we were able to deliver the desired look. The crew really enjoyed working with Yeti and we hope to be able to use it again on future projects.”

Your work on this film is absolutely fantastic, Laura and the rest of the Nitrogen Studios team. Thank you for speaking with us and using Yeti!

Credits:

  • Nate Barnard – CG Supervisor
  • Ryan Bowers – CFX and Shot Finalist
  • Laura Brousseau – Senior Lighting Supervisor
  • Kevin Phibbs – Look Development Supervisor
  • Marie-Eve Kirkpatrick – Lead Texture Artist

Note: Discretion should be used when viewing the trailer for this R-rated film.