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.”
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.”
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!
- 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.
Supamonks Studio used Yeti to develop the trailer for the new mobile version of Netmarble’s game, Stone Age. Romain Carlier, who’s first introduction to Yeti was at Fix Studios in 2012 and worked as a hair artist at Supamonks for this project, spoke with us about his experience working with our software.
“There were two artists assigned to grooming for this project: Guillaume Kerfriden worked on the lion’s fur and I was responsible for the boy’s hair, the bird and the dynamics. All hair, feathers and fur were made in Yeti/V-ray, and I used Yeti’s dynamics and the new motion node for the wind.”
“When it came to choosing software for this work, Yeti was an obvious choice. It is really simple to incorporate it into the pipeline while being quick and easy to work with while creating fur. On a commercial spot like this, the fact that we can work without maps and just use face sets combined with paintable attributes saves a lot of time, we don’t need to concern ourselves with UV’s so the modelling and fur teams can work at the same time.”
“The difficulty was finding the balance between stylized and realistic hair. For the boy’s hair and the lion’s mane we needed a clean shape but we did want to maintain the the detail in the hair. To achieve this, we used a lot of clumps. In my opinion, clumping is really the strength of Yeti.”
“Squash and stretch in the hair was a major challenge during animation and Yeti handled the job perfectly using guide curves and some clever solutions in the graph. I was also keen to use the new motion node introduced in 2.0 and, again, using some user variables to control the animation it did the job perfectly.”
Congratulations on another great project using Yeti, Romain! Thank you for sharing your work with us.
We are very excited to share this detailed case study prepared by the team at Milk VFX who used Yeti to bring almost every creature to life for the new series, Beowulf.
Incredible work, Milk!
“ITV’s new series Beowulf, helmed by Walking with Dinosaurs producer Tim Haines, is based on the oldest English poem of the same name. Milk was awarded all vfx work which meant we were responsible for bringing all of the creatures to life. We collaborated closely with Tim Haines and knew that from concept stage that we’d be having to add fur and hair to nearly every creature on the show from the protagonist Grendl to the wolf like Wulfingdogs.”
Choosing a fur tool.
“CG fur and hair has until recently been very much a luxury of film work given the time and research required to get it looking believable (i.e., Life of Pi, Tangled, and The Planet of the Apes films). Given fur is a real world asset, there are certain rules and behaviours we have to abide by in order to convince audiences that what they are seeing is real. We needed to find a tool that could help us achieve this. We had used Yeti previously on the feature film Hercules with great success.”
“At that time we were using the feather features introduced in Yeti 1.3 which were still quite a new asset to the Yeti toolset. Anytime we ran into a problem or requested a feature, the Yeti team were quick to respond and help out. The support we received and the features available to us made using Yeti in Beowulf a no brainer. A lot of the creatures in Beowulf also required varying fur/hair styles on different parts of their bodies and this was easy with Yeti. We could create multiple graphs inside one node and then simply duplicate setups and even reuse them on other creatures if necessary leaving us with just a small amount of tweaking, this flexibility was key.”
“In episode one alone, we are introduced to three very different looking creatures and they would appear in no less than 100 shots, fur and all. I can’t think of another TV show to date that required such a heavy need for CG fur, which meant we had our work cut out.
The first part of the fur development was to take each creature model, create a fur groom which would roughly take 2 to 3 days and then attach it to the look development scene so we could test how the fur would look as part of the final creature design. We’d create turntables for client reviews and make changes according to their notes.
Once a groom had been finalled, we needed to figure out how we would populate each shot with fur. Each groom needs to be attached to the animated creature mesh on a per shot basis, then cached to file and loaded into the final creature template scene that had all the working shaders and lighting. This meant a lot of manual time would be required. At this stage we hadn’t even considered dynamics, and we wanted to avoid heavy dynamic tweaks being done on each shot. It became clear that we had to figure out a way to streamline the fur dynamics and caching process for each shot.”
“To test the dynamics, we ran our groom lookdev scenes through a number of different animation cycles all the while adjusting the dynamic settings until we felt we had something that would work in all circumstances. Our goal was to have just enough dynamics to add a nice amount of weight to the fur as it collided with the body, horns, etc. whilst still maintaining the original groom pose. These settings were then stored for each creature.”
“In summary, our Yeti pipeline consisted of a 3 step process for each shot.
- Bake the tension displacement to a single tile map sequence.
- Add displacement to the animated mesh thus offsetting the Yeti node that is attached
to this mesh.
- Set a preroll, assign the optimal dynamic settings and bake Yeti to file (cache).”
“To simplify things further, our in-house technician, Alexandre Pavot, created a UI which ran all these steps automatically on the farm. All we had to do was provide the UI with the animated creature alembic cache (which stored all shot information in the filename) and it would automate all the steps and deliver them to the farm leaving us with a final Yeti cache.”
“On previous projects, due to software limitations, it was a challenge to attach dirt or snow for example to fur and have it move with the fur as though stuck within it. With Yeti, we knew we could add instance geometry into the Yeti graph on the same groom curves. So we created four distinctive dirt objects and scattered these through the fur by introducing instance nodes to the graph. We could then randomise quantity, size, rotation and position along the groom curves.”
Shading and Lighting
“For Beowulf we decided to use the AL shaders (a group of shaders created for Arnold by Anders Langlands) for all the CG creature look development. This meant we could use the included hair shader allowing us to take advantage of the extra features absent in the current Arnold hair shader. For example, we could add kajiyakay scattering, dual specularity (a broad and tight specular at different locations along the length of the hair) and transmission to bleed light through the hair giving us nice rim light results. It also made creating ID’s much easier (they are built into the shader) because often you struggle to retain the opacity in fur when creating ID’s. All of our renders required that we create deep aov’s and this shader set worked perfectly with Yeti for this purpose. For the dirt we were able to create custom attributes in the Yeti graph that fed into our shading networks allowing us to further adjust their look separate to the main fur shader.”
VFX Supervisor – JC Deguara
CG Supervisor – Nicolas Hernandez
Lead Modellers – Sam Lucas and Jason Brown
Lighting & Look Dev – Bastien Mortelecque, Adrian Williams, Dominic Alderson
Grooming – Dominic Alderson
Lead Animator – David Bennett
Lead Rigging – Neil Roche
2D Supervisor – Sara Bennett
Tracking Lead – Amy Felce
Effects Lead – James Reid
Lead Concept Artist – Grant Bonser
Texture Artist – Henry South
Earlier this year, Bläck Studios was tasked with executing a cinematic trailer for Conan Exiles, Funcom’s new multiplayer online game to be released this summer. The realistic Conan was created with Yeti and the results are stunning.
We recently caught up with Henrik Eklundh, VFX Supervisor at Bläck to talk about how and why they used our software for this project.
“The trailer features Conan and he had to look iconic and cinematic. So to reach that level we needed the hair, brows, lashes, beard and ‘peach fuzz’ to look stunning. Our brilliant character artist, Jonas Skoog, took a turn in zbrush with fibremesh to place out the hair which I took and refined using Yeti tools. We converted the hair back and forth from guide curves to grooms to get the look we needed.”
Eklundh went on to tell us, “We are very comfortable using Yeti and have a great pipeline written by Erik Johansson for it. We can go back and forth with guide curves/grooms and simulate the hair in either Yeti’s simulation tools or other programs. We trust Yeti to give us what we need in terms of hair and fur, therefore, it was the obvious choice.”
When we asked Eklundh if Yeti was able to achieve the desired results and accommodate the project’s needs, he responded that, “The results were great and it’s easy to get clumping on clumps using procedural setups in the Yeti graph. We can take setups from different characters and apply them to get a good start. The new viewport rendering of the hair helped out a lot. It’s much easier now to see the result you are getting with the width of the hair, clumping and density etc.”.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, Henrik, and congratulations to the entire team – the trailer is terrific! Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEIcftl0OZk
Robinson Crusoe, the classic tale of a castaway who spends thirty years on a tropical island, is set to hit theatres this spring as a full-length feature. Produced by nWave Digital, a state-of-the-art animation studio in Brussels, this 3D animated film is told from the perspective of a bold parrot named Tuesday. We were very excited to learn that nWave Digital used Yeti extensively in Robinson Crusoe for fur, feathers and hair.
We recently spoke with Carlo Giesa, Character FX Supervisor of nWave Digital, about how they used Yeti for this project.
“Yeti was used for the first time on our most recent production, a full length animated feature film, Robinson Crusoe. Because we used it for all hair, fur, feathers and also some environment tasks, it is visible in almost every shot of the movie.”
“One of my roles as a Character FX supervisor was to make sure that our groomers and character FX artists had all they needed to fulfil the requests of the art department and the director. Together with my leads, we tested the package intensively, integrated Yeti into our pipeline, set up the work flow and conventions and provided any additional tools that could help improve the results.”
We asked Carlo why they chose Yeti, and he told us, “On our previous shows, we felt pretty limited with the tools we used. Robinson Crusoe turned out to be a much more challenging project than what we had before. A lot of special character effects were needed and the grooming required much more detail in terms of the amount of asset, amount of hair as well as control of hair color and style. From the beginning, the director insisted that this movie was to have a different look. Advanced wet and wind effects were desired along with better control of hair variations that evolved throughout the story.”
“Yeti, with its nodal workflow, gave us the flexibility that we were looking for. Once you get into the logic of Yeti it provides all the necessary tools to achieve any kind of fur/hair/feather effect you want. Expressions and user attributes were heavily used on this show to control different kinds of modifications on existing grooms. All this combined with textures, animated or static, satisfied most of our expectations. We really enjoyed the way Yeti handles the clumping. Creating multiple layers of clumping was just a question of plugging a few nodes together and with a small amount of parameters, we were able to achieve very complex grooms. The pipeline integration was pretty straight forward. Its caching system allowed us to go further in terms of detail. Hair and segment count was much less constraining. Our existing LOD system needed only a few modifications to be able to work with Yeti.”
Finally, Carlo added, “It’s really fun to play with Yeti and to test things out that you never thought of trying to do with a hair tool. Due to its procedural work flow, it can be handy in many more situations than just grooming.”
This film is sure to be a hit with adults and children alike thanks to the great work with Yeti. Stay tuned to see the trailer soon. Congratulations on a job well done nWave Digital!