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!

FABLEfx used Yeti for Orangutang in Kids’ Cancer Research Spot

When tasked with creating a new version of Rynke the Orangutang, FABLEfx used Yeti to bring the primate to life in a recent kids’ cancer research commercial.  We were fortunate to speak with Janak Thakker, Animation Supervisor at FABLEfx about their experience using Yeti.  Here’s what he had to say.

“My name is Janak Thakker and I’m the Animation Supervisor (dabbling as VFX Supervisor too) and co-founder at FABLEfx, a VFX boutique started a couple of years ago with a firm focus on characters and creatures. On this project Kaj Steveman (CEO/Creative director) and I tag-teamed as VFX Sup’s. We undertake most of our projects like this – a collaborative effort helping us getting as much creativeness as possible into the mix.”

“In this touching spot from Rynkeby Foods promoting kids’ cancer research, we see the boy, Bertil, and his (imaginary) best friend, Rynke the orangutang, who’s keeping him company in the hospital. They play around, Rynke gets a little naughty and ruins Bertil’s card house, but above all, they are best buds taking care of each other.”

“Creatively it was an exciting and equally scary challenge creating a CG character in demanding shots like this. Not only did we need to make sure that we created a believable living creature to help tell this emotional story but it’s obviously also quite a technical challenge as well. This is where Yeti comes into play as part of the solution.”

“We’ve been using Yeti for our furry and feathery creatures since we opened our doors. Yeti is what we prefer to use both artistically and technically so it was a no-brainer to use it for this creature as well. With Yeti we get the creative control needed to create believable grooms and rendering pretty pictures.”

“Digging around in the Yeti toolbox, the groom itself was meticulously crafted and tweaked into submission based on references from the clients as well as our own references to make sure we got to a level of fidelity everyone would be happy with. For fur dynamics we use an nHair approach with simulated curves driving the converted Yeti groom”

“If we had more responsive viewport feedback for grooming and better built in simulation tools I think we would have been able to push this even further which is something that goes for all our projects using Yeti.”

“All in all I think Yeti is a really groundbreaking tool as it allows small studios like ours to create high end fur with reasonable resources. It’s also pretty straight forward integrating it into custom pipelines like ours which is great.”

Thank you for your kind words and for taking time to speak with us about Yeti, Janak. Keep up the incredible work!