Yuriy Dulich’s Great Horned Owl

Yuriy Dulich kindly shared details about how he crafted his beautiful Great Horned Owl over the course of 4 months using Yeti, Maya, Arnold and Mari.


 

“I chose my typical approach with this type of character – to make it as realistic and anatomically correct as possible. The research process for this project included reading scientific literature, speaking with amateur keepers and meeting professional ornithologists including a live owl to study.”

“It all started with the collection of detailed references. There were no problems with photo-references as there are a lot of them from different angles and once I started gathering these the scale of the work became clear. But it was necessary to dig into more detail and problems started with the owl’s anatomy, the location of the feathers on the body and how their length and structure depend on their location and how the texture of the feathers varies themselves.”

“I decided to visit the zoo to talk with ornithologists and thanks to my friend Simon Andrew, who is a scientist fond of ornithology, I managed to study the living Ural owl very closely. This made it possible to better understand the volume of feathers in relation to the volume of the body itself, the location of the pterilium, the anatomy of the body, the structure of the feathers, and much more. The book “The Unfeathered Bird” by Katrina van Grouw helped me a lot with anatomy and additional feather textures were obtained from the online database of ornithologists: https://www.fws.gov/lab/featheratlas/ and https://www.featherbase.info/ru/home. The rest of the textures I hand-painting according to the reference with the whole process taking place in parallel with the sculpting and grooming.”

“Before sculpting I managed to find a scan of the skull of the desired owl and assembled the skeleton according to the reference while basing it on a modified skeleton of a parrot.”

“The next challenge was building the skin up to the intended volume, making a guess based on all of the reference as there are no photos of this specific owl without feathers. When the base model was built, the grooming and feather creation began. This is a very delicate and long work that requires attention and a large number of references.”

“I have implemented an iterative grooming method in my pipeline and with this method, literally in 2-3 passes, I get close to the desired shape of the strands. In Yeti, I used a new feature with a shader node which allowed me to visualize where the right layer of feathers is on the body by procedurally setting different colors for each layer. An expression based on the length and layer was used to automatically selected the necessary set of feathers with the required density.”

“To generate the feathers, I used both the Yeti built-in feather primitive along with the jcFeather plugin and divided the whole owl into zones.”

“Each region has from 3 to 9 variations of feathers. In total, there are 3,913 feathers on the body and 2362 feathers covering of the wings. The wing and tail feathers were based on photo references I took from the ornithological researchers – although their resolution wasn’t great their shape was clearly visible and creation was not difficult.”

“I want to note that I did not use polygonal planes in general, all of the the feathers based on fibres where the total number of feathers was 6327 which consisted of 2188922 fibres.”

“I tried to keep the Grooming as anatomically correct as possible following the so-called pterilium and the length of feathers while measuring and adjusting to my subjects proportions.”

“This is quite a laborious business as there is very little information or scientific articles on this topic. But the analysis of other birds and familiarity with the Ural owl allowed me to solve this problem.”

“I iterated on the grooming by repeatedly fitting to the body model, adjust wing positions and small tests with body deformation – once I was happy I finalized the basic shape of the owl. In ZBrush, I performed a highly detailed sculpt and together with the vector textures I finalized the body model.”

“Next was the final fit of the grooming, the angles of rotation of the feathers, the number of fibres in the feathers and their thickness with repeated test renders to try and match the feeling and look of the reference.”

“Having good success with my previous work I decided to perform the final visualization in the studio as well. By lighting nothing complicated, I used from 2-4 AreaLigth to simulate a soft box of light sources and one sky dome at a low exposure.”

“In the end the average render time on 2*Xeon E5-2695v3 (2*14core @ 2,8GHz) for 8k images was approximately 30h, and 4k images for the head was 14h.”


 

And here is a fantastic breakdown of how it came together – thank you Yuriy.

 

Yeti Summer Sale

July is fast approaching and with it comes many great incentives (besides the beautiful weather) for a Yeti Summer Sale.

Canada Day lands on the 1st of the month pairing cold beer, Muskoka chairs and the Tragically Hip on the radio with more than a few pick up games of basketball expected.  (#WeTheNorth)

And now that all of our products are available to our southern neighbour it is only fair that we get to join in their Independence Day fun and send a few rockets into the skies!

During the month of July

%15 off all new Yeti purchases!

 

To celebrate the plethora of goodness we are offering %15 off all new Yeti purchases for the whole month of July!  Use the following code, GLOBALGROOMING, when checking out from our online store to take advantage of this discount.

 

Fine print: The discount is only applicable to new Yeti Studio and/or Indie licenses purchased between 12am (EST) July 1st and Midnight (EST) July 31st and can not be combined with other offers.  The discount code must be applied at the time of purchase. 

TeamTO’s Mighty Mike and the Wild Bunch

TeamTO is a full featured producer and independent animation studio in France who handles 100% of their own CGI production process across two studios, one located in Paris and the other Bourg-lès-Valence. This strategy enables them to closely control every stage of production and guarantees the consistent quality of every show while maintaining a flexible, reliable and high-performing environment which encourages artistic talents to flourish.

We had the chance to speak with TeamTO’s CTO, Jean-Baptiste Spieser, about how Yeti helped them deliver their most recent endeavour – Mighty Mike and the Wild Bunch.

Mighty Mike and the Wild Bunch, Courtesy of TeamTO

“When we decided to launch our new show, Mighty Mike and the Wild Bunch, in 2018; we hadn’t experimented extensively with fur in a TV series production. Of course we’ve used Yeti previously on a feature film (“Yellowbird” directed by Chirstian de Vita) but our experience told us that feature films and TV series are so different in terms of flow and pipeline – the quality-budget-shedule equilibrium is very specific to each typology of production.”

“Our artistic requirements were high with Mighty Mike and we didn’t want the presence of fur to bring limitations to our directors and artists (close-ups on characters, cartoon deformation, number of characters in the same shots, environment and FX interactions ). That was quite an ambition to deal with and the choice of Yeti was definitely one of the good ones!”

“The 5 main characters were animals with fur and there is an average of two of them in each of our 10,608 shots. Once they were groomed and our pipeline stabilized, everything went so smooth on the farm or, as we say in French, au poil!

Mighty Mike and the Wild Bunch, Courtesy of TeamTO

“With a powerful toolset and open graph we were able to easily integrate Yeti in our pipeline. This freed us up to deal with the derivate characters while allowing the development of our dedicated collision-tools to deal with all the interactions the animals had with the sets, props or themselves – with the characters spending so much time chasing, fighting and hugging each other.”

“In total 1,697,280 cache files were exported with 8000 furry images being rendered each day enabling us deliver 3 episodes per week at cruising speed.”

“Peregrine definitely provided us a powerful tool to serve our artistic ambition.”

Bokeh Pricing

Bokeh has been available for purchase almost as long as our little studio has existed, within that time we’ve been lucky enough to have some of the top companies in visual effects use it on ground breaking productions.

As with all our projects Bokeh was initially developed for internal needs but due to interest from other parties we made it available for outside consumption, at that time we weren’t sure how we wanted to price it as a product and ultimately settled on a rate that was extremely aggressive with the aim of making it as accessible as possible.

Over the years we’ve made small adjustments to this rate, the biggest step was quickly moving from a perpetual model to the need for annual support fees to maintain a license. Even with 20 years of VFX production experience and having managed large scale development internally, the leap to selling and supporting software to a large (and demanding) user base was (and still is) a learning experience and our initial pricing was off.

Over the last six months it has become obvious that we needed to take our pseudo-subscription model and update it to a plain and simple annual subscription one. Our assumptions about how customers would be using the licenses differed from reality, rather than staying continually on maintenance; licenses would only be used/purchased when needed, sometimes years apart. This led to some confusion as to how and when maintenance could be renewed and the implications of the timing, many customers reached out and asked us to come up with another plan. In addition to this confusion with the annual maintenance model, it wouldn’t have made sense to maintain Bokeh’s availability if we stayed the course we were on.

As of now all Bokeh licenses are considered annual subscriptions, there is a single price for both a site license and single licenses with both floating and node locked (for single) options now being offered.

This means there is no longer an annual maintenance price, when a license expires a new annual subscription can be purchased with no time limit for how soon that needs to happen after expiry. If you purchase a new subscription prior to the expiration date of a previous annual term we’ll ensure the new license starts at the end of said term – otherwise it will start on the day of purchase.

Making this change isn’t something we’ve taken lightly and understand that this may impact some studios continued use of Bokeh. We are extremely humbled by the amazing craftsperson-ship of our customers and hope to continue our relationship with as many as possible.

Update: Single license pricing has been reduced to $129 p/a for a floating license and $99 p/a for a node-locked one.

GDC, TED and FMX – our spring conference season!

We are entering spring conference season again, in fact – we’ve already enjoyed a visit to San Fransisco for the Game Developers Conference. With the release of Nvidia’s RTX cards and support from the major graphics API’s there was a lot of realtime raytracing coverage – including Epic’s release of Unreal Engine 4.22.

More recently I was lucky enough to attend the TED conference in Vancouver this last week – a very humbling experience to step outside of our usual thinking and enjoy exploring the world through the TED ecosystem. There was much to reflect on, which I will leave for another post, but a highlight was Doug Roble’s presentation of Digital Doug to the wonderment of the audience.

Doug Roble speaks at TED2019: Bigger Than Us. April 15 – 19, 2019, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

Back at the studio I’ve had just over a week to breath before heading to the beautiful city of Stuttgart for FMX. The program this year looks solid and we’re very happy to highlight a few of the presentations our talented customers are involved with:

Mackevision – Best Friend, Tuesday April 30th @ 3:15pm
Check out the studios page to watch the spot and hear more about how it was made.

Method – Welcome To Marwen, Wednesday May 1st @ 4:30pm
In the Virtual Production track, don’t miss Kevin Baillie’s talk on some of the techniques used to deliver these stunning digital performances.

Goodbye Kansas – Overkill’s The Walking Dead, Thursday May 2nd @ 9:30am
GBK produced these stunning trailers for Overkill’s The Walking Dead, listen to a few of the team members discuss the challenges involved in bringing them to life. Watch Maya, Grant and Aidan on their website.

Ilion – Wonder Park, Thursday May 2nd @ 2:00pm
Head behind the scenes with the crew from Ilion to discuss production details of the animated feature Wonder Park.

Trixter – Captain Marvel, Friday May 3rd @ 3:15pm
Hear about Trixter’s involvement in Captain Marvel from Dominik Zimmerie including the stunning alien cat “Goose” (we’re biased) along with the wonderful Janelle Croshaw Ralla – this one can’t be missed!

Additionally there will be a Matrix Retrospective, Digital Doug talk with Doug Roble from Digital Domain, a look at the visual effects of Avengers: Endgame and many more exciting talks – check out the full schedule here.

If you’re going to be there reach out and say hi, and enjoy the week!