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.”

Elephant Tangles with Giraffe

Cirkus uses Yeti to help WWF remind us the fragility of fresh water

It’s always exciting to hear when Yeti is used for causes close to our heart, and Elephant vs. Giraffe created by the team at Cirkus for WWF doesn’t fall short.

In a poignant statement about the future of fresh water vs. global population growth Romain Borrel, the film’s director, came up with a concept where an elephant and giraffe end up in an altercation over a bottle of fresh water with many twists and turns (literally) along the way.

Giraffe inspects water

Romain told us Yeti was chosen by the team as it allowed them to achieve the level of realism and feature film quality required to create these two photorealistic animals.

A big but critical decision made part way through the project was to switch from their previous rendering engine to Redshift – with the tight integration offered between Yeti and Redshift the team felt both products worked incredibly well together resulting in five times the speed in per frame render times while still maintaining the same, high quality, result.

Elephant and Giraffe pretzels

Although many of the core crew were familiar with Yeti and happy using it due to its power and ease of use, the fact it is taught widely among New Zealand students provided an additional win for Cirkus who was able to scale their team with artists comfortable using it from day one.

Thank you to the team at Cirkus for reminding us our planet is fragile and supporting WWF and similar foundations who endeavor to improve life on Earth for all species is imperative to a long and sustainable future.

Below is the full video for you to enjoy.

Dinosaurs in the Wild

Milk created a ground-breaking range of CG Dinosaurs and their environment for ‘Dinosaurs In The Wild’ – an immersive, UK theatrical special venue experience which transports audiences 67 million years back in time to the Cretaceous period, to experience dinosaurs in their own environment!

The focus for the team was a digital ‘dinosaur safari’ – creating all of the external views of the dinosaurs seen through four ‘observatory windows’; and one windscreen-view for a ‘simulated drive’ sequence, all in Stereoscopic 3D.

“We created eight different species of Dinosaur for the show, which appear in every frame.” Explains Matt Bell, the lead grooming TD on the project – “Almost all of the Dinosaurs used Yeti to one extent or another and it was my responsibility to groom each one and help integrate the creature FX into our pipeline. Each dinosaur species had differing groom characteristics and each of these had multiple variations.”

©Dinosaurs in the Wild UK Ltd 2017 – Images supplied by Milk Visual Effects

This challenging workload was broken down into 4 X 12,000 frame continuous eight-minute shots and one x 6,000 frame, 4-minute drive sequence with Yeti being chosen for its ease of use and integration into the studios Maya/Renderman pipeline which was used for Dinosaurs in the Wild.

Matt continues “It was an incredibly challenging project given the large number of dinosaur variations and the length of the animation sequences. We rendered almost 80 million frames in the cloud using Google Cloud platform to accommodate the scale of the project. We are very happy with results we achieved.”

“Yeti achieves great results quickly and the flexibility allowed us to come up with workarounds to achieve specific looks, for example on the feathered Dakotaraptor we used a combination of heavily clumped fur blended with Yeti feathers which was layered into geometry feathers.”

“Yeti was perfect for such a complex and large-scale job such as Dinosaurs In The Wild.”

 

©Dinosaurs in the Wild UK Ltd 2017 – Images supplied by Milk Visual Effects

Freefolk’s furry trio for Smythson

We were extremely happy to hear that the team at Freefolk chose Yeti when tasked with creating a trio of furry photo real animals for an upcoming online film for Smythson.

“Our team have been using Yeti for a few years on a number of creature jobs so we already had a lot of positive experience and felt comfortable with the tools and functionality it provided.” shared Harin Hirani, Freefolk’s Head of 3D, he continued “We felt it was still the best solution for digital fur and we were very happy to use it again on this project.”

“This project required a Tiger, Giraffe and Elephant that would appear in close up shots so they had to be built to the highest detail. I was mainly responsible for the look development of the tiger, which involved modelling, texturing, shading and the grooming of the fur. It was by far the most complex groom we had completed yet with dozens of maps and attributes controlling the look of the fur across the body.”



“Yeti’s node based procedural approach made it really easy to create different styles of fur and layer them up intuitively while remaining easy to adjust if needed. We were able to pass attributes to the renderer to create variations of colour for each strand which gave us more control over its appearance.”

When asked if there was anything else that stood out about the team’s experience with Yeti, Harin replied “Initially we were nervous about having to create enough hairs to cover the surface area of a giraffe as the fur is so short. But Yeti proved to be very reliable and had no problems generating the 22 million strands that was needed.”

Thank you to the Freefolk team for the insight and letting us share the full Smythson film below:

Rising Sun Pictures raises Hel for Thor: Ragnarok

We had so much fun watching Marvel’s latest release, Thor: Ragnarok, with a plethora of amazing visual effects executed by a world-wide roster of vendors.

Rising Sun Pictures, based in Adelaide, Australia, worked on a number of sequences for the film where Yeti was used as a primary grooming package to achieve the realistic looks/hairstyles needed for their digital characters and creatures.

We spoke with Dilen Shah who worked as a Lead Character FX TD at RSP on Thor: Ragnarok and shared the teams experience on two of the sequences.

HEL SEQUENCE

“The first sequence we worked on that made extensive use of Yeti was the flashback Valkyrie sequence where the Valkyries were entering the battle to fight the God of Death, Hela. It was a particularly interesting and challenging sequence, shot completely in slow motion with an abundance of digital characters and horses, which had to be highly detailed to maintain realism up-close to the camera.”

“We went through an extensive amount of reference for the horses, especially race horses, as their features were the closest match to the battle horse look we were going for. Yeti’s procedural workflow helped us achieve a realistic overall look, with the neck and tail hair making use of guides to allow per shot control to meet the art direction needs of the production.”

“This sequence also had over 140 Valkyrie digital characters, each with their own hairstyles and grooms. We created a library of generic female grooms, and were able to randomize them using custom variables in Yeti, to achieve a unique look for each one.”

“Lastly, many shots in this sequence required a fully digital version of Cate Blanchett, also using Yeti for her hair, which was a fun challenge for the team.”

TRAILER ALLEYWAY AND HKS (BIFROST) SEQUENCE

“The Bifrost sequence, where Thor and Loki are both escaping Hela after she had destroyed Thor’s hammer, required a lot of intensive grooming.  For most of the shots Thor and Loki are completely digital characters and thus we had to closely match their hairstyles as they were in the rest of the movie, with both offering up their own challenges.”

“Loki had thick clumpy hair that was straight and wavy at the same time, this was made possible using the groom paint attributes in Yeti which allowed us to differentiate parts of his hair in a selective way.”

“Thor, on the other hand, had really long hair passing down his shoulders with a very recognizable pony tail and we had to maintain the textural quality which was a mix between clumpy/thick and smooth/thin which varied across the groom. Care was taken to also match the little details like loose fly away hairs mixed with small pony tails that framed his face. These were handled via Yeti’s guide sets by carefully controlling the radius of influence of each for finer control over the look.”

“As with Loki, Thor’s eyebrows and beard were also completely created in Yeti.”

“As a whole, we found Yeti to be a solid grooming package – we were able to achieve the look and feel we needed for the range of characters and creature this project demanded. We also appreciated the flexibility it gave us to easily make changes at the shot level itself, if necessary. Unfortunately, we did have to go away from Yeti for hair simulation (which we hope will be tackled in future versions) but as a grooming package Yeti was amazing and provided us with what we needed.”

Thank you for the insight Dilen and congratulations to the whole Rising Sun Pictures on the fantastic work!